January 24, 2012

A pre-coupon post: Menu Planning

One huge part of couponing is meal planning.  I used to plan my meals and then go shopping.  This doesn't work well when you want to shop for sales & deals.  After reading the book by the Krazy Coupon Lady I learned that I was doing the whole menu planning thing the wrong way!!  You have to plan plan plan!  So now, I look at what is on sale and what I have coupons for - buy everything I have on my lists (yes, I usually have a few different lists) and THEN plan my menus based on what I have.  I save sooo much money doing my menus this way.  Plus, you don't have to run to the store every other night to pick up something you may have forgot.  When you coupon, you usually have e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you need to cook!  It takes a while to get that way, but you do eventually have a nice stockpile!

So now, on Saturdays usually, I just look at what I have in my fridge/pantry/stockpil-in-the-basement and see what I have and from there I plan our meals for the next week.  I usually buy meat every other week, and I buy what's on sale, or go to the store that has the meat I want that's on sale (i.e. I usually shop at ShopRite but if they don't have chicken on sale, which we need a lot of, I'll go to Wegman's or Safeway or whoever has it on sale) and I plan my meals around that.  I try to switch it up a lot too - like if we have beef one night, I'll make sure we have chicken or pork the next, or at least a different type of beef.  It's important to switch it up or your husband/kids/family will get bored and get mad at you - lol just kidding.  But seriously, switch it up because life is all about change and different flava!

I saw this really cool idea somewhere, I forget where but probably on Pinterest.  You take a picture frame, put some pretty scrapbook paper in it and then write your menu on the the glass with a dry erase marker like a white board.  Then, you hang it up in your kitchen or wherever works for you, and you have a clear menu to look at all week - no scrambling last minute to decide what to eat or what to cook. 

Here is ours.  It's not too fancy right now, hanging on our boring kitchen walls.  One day this will be a pretty, ornate Tuscan frame - whenever we get around to reno-ing the kitch.

This is just one of the many things that make my life as a wife and step mom a little easier.  I do all the work ahead of time and just follow it for the week.  Sometimes Dave starts dinner before I get home from work, and this is so helpful because he knows what meat to defrost and what ingredients to get out.  I try to do an interesting meal at LEAST once a week, like a new recipe or a complicated one that we love.  Last weekend on Saturday I made Julia Child's Beef Bourgignon - it's sooooooo Amazing and yummy!  This week I made Pioneer Woman's Cowboy Steak sandwiches.  Again, so so yummy!  read her blog and get her cookbook, by the way, she's awesome. 

See?  I try to make things interesting and exciting sometimes;)  Then, other times as you see, we just make something easy, fast, and severely unhealthy like Hamburger Helper!  My family loves it, what can a girl do?

This is an important part to couponing, because your meals will depend on the sales you are shopping and the coupons you have.  Don't worry, you can steal eat healthy when you coupon - I always have tons and tons of veggies to cook and supplement meals.  I think a lot of people think they can't eat well on couponing, but that is a myth.  Read KCL - she'll tell you;)

Oh and I just saw this on Pioneer Woman's site, if you are planning on stockpiling soon - here is her list of "staples" to have in your house at all times!  I'm printing mine out as we speak!! 

Ta Ta for now!

January 22, 2012

Hang it up!

Well - our town's football season is over.  Yes, the Ravens lost to the Patriots.  Such a a sad day!  We had a great season and can't complain too much, best in our division and number 4 overall!  They played a great game and it just wasn't enough.  I can't remember what life is like on the weekends without football?  I'm sure I'll survive - but I am not sure Dave will!  Poor hubby!!

Today I mostly rested, I still have this cold hanging on to me and it's got me SO tired!  I need warmth and sunshine and summer - I never get sick in summer.  I did however get around to hanging some shelves that we bought from Target last week...

They went up in our dining room, themed around NYC.  I have to get better at hanging stuff on walls, it takes me so many tries!  I should really use that trick I learned from YHL, see that post here because it's very helpful for hanging pictures and I think I could have done it for this project too.  These turn out cute though - I am not sure about the decor I've put on them so far - I have NOTHING small enough and cute enough for the smallest cube shelf so I'll have to look for something to go on that.  I have a tiny candlestick on there in a few of these pics, but I hated it and have since put it back up on the main shelf.

I bought the cats at Good Will and spray painted them, they are too cute.  It's a good spot for them too because Frodo's food station is right underneath these shelves;)  The Taxi is from a Broadway shop in the Times Square Marriott - that is definitely staying there. 

Here is a wider shot.  I like that this wall isn't naked anymore!

Oh and remember how I said I couldn't find a yellow and that I had samples all over a small wall of my kitchen?

Yes it is kind of ridiculous.  I HAD to see each one on the wall, how it dries and looks...otherwise I could not pick one!  The winner is the paint chip you see sitting up on my little wine painting...its Olympic's Evening Glow - it's very perfect!  Its yellow, its bright, its Tuscan-like and it has a little hint of brown in it so it looks good with our other walls.  It's perfect!

In this next picture you can see a little part of the wall that has Evening Glow on it, right there on the bottom right.  Yay!  I found the ONE!!  I told my stepdaughter, and my friend Katie, that picking paint is like getting married for me.  You have to COMMIT, there is no going back!  You have to live with it for life!  Except that is not really true, with paint you can always paint over it, but what a pain! 

I have since painted over all these splotches - I want to paint that part with the Evening Glow...you know, just to be REALLY sure;)

We keep putting off work in the basement - so much to do down there and no motivation to do it.  We have to demo a brick wall and a yucky old shelf, to make sure there is no extra damage from the flood back in August.  We are turning that extra room from a craft room to a storage room to house all my stockpile.  It'll still be where my sewing machine lives too, but we have to make space for all this stuff I keep buying for free or cheap;)  Plus we need to hang out some Christmas presents in the main room, but Dave probably won't be in the mood for that for a while (p.s. its Ravens stuff).

I doubt we will get to it tonight with me not feeling well and the fact that the RAVENS stuff is all over the place down there, it may be heart breaking just to see that;)  I won't put anyone through that for a few days!

Upcoming this week, I am going to do a detailed post on my couponing, I've had a few people ask how I organize, find the deals, and shop - so I want to lay it all out on the blog to help and inspire.  It's so fun and so rewarding!!

January 21, 2012

So frugally awesome - DIY Laundry Detergent

10/13 Update:  Thanks to everyone from Pinterest who are stopping by!  I've been using this as my detergent for the past year and still love it:)  I've experimented with other soaps and each time has worked out well, so feel free to change up the soap of your preference to get different results.  I'd love it if you would follow the blog and leave comments about your experience with home made detergent - it would be fun hearing how it works for other people:)  Also, if you have any other tips, mention them in the comments.  I know some others have been adding downy and/or laundry enhancers to theirs and I've enjoy hearing how that works!  See you around!

Back in October I experimented with making laundry detergent.  I wasn't sure about this whole thing.  But the thought that I could make a 3 or 4 gallon batch of detergent for less than $5 was baffling to me?  How much money would I save?!  A lot!  Considering that even on sale, 1 HALF gallon may cost $5.  Every once in a while it may be less.  But not all the time! Right now a little over a GALLON (150 ounces) of Tide at Shoprite is $16.99? 

So my BFF, Heather, & I made our first batches of the detergent.  Here is what you need, except I put the wrong box in this picture - the Arm & Hammer should be WASHING SODA - which looks a lot like baking soda...I grabbed the wrong box for this pic.  You need the washing soda, Borax, and Fels-Naptha.  Fels-Naptha is bar soap, a laundry bar soap and it smells lemony and lovely!  All these items can be found in the laundry aisle in any major store - I happen to get mine in Wal-mart (gasp!  I cheated on Target?!?!) and spend $3.89 on the three items.  Score!

 I bought a cheese grater just for this detergent.  I can't imagine sharing my regular one with soap.  That would not taste very good!  So you grate your soap down to ribbons...

Like so...

Then, you boil 4 cups of water on the stove top...once its rolling drop in your soap!

Boil and stir and boil and stir until all the soap is dissolved, it'll look all frothy:

Oh and don't walk away from it.  My BFF may or may not have done that the 2nd time around.  And it may or may not have been a disaster in her kitchen!  Heather, I hope you don't mind me sharing that, I feel it's important enough to warn;)  It totally could've happened to me because that is something I would do.

This will make your house smell so wonderful and clean, even if it isn't!!

Unfortunately this is where my photo's end.  I'll have to add more the next time I make it.

Next, you take a 5 gallon paint bucket (buy it at Home D or Lowes, buy the lid too - its only about $5 or less for the set) and I fill it a little over halfway with warm water, about 3 gallons.  I have to fill it in my bathtub because my sink isn't that deep.  Or I could fill it in the basement in my utility sink.  

Then dump in your dissolved soap mixture!  Stir it up nicely.  Then add 1 cup of washing soda and a 1/2 cup of the Borax.  Stir it well and then stick the top on and keep it in your laundry room.  Let it set for about 24 hours.  Stir it again.  Don't be alarmed by its....goopiness.  That is the official word!  It looks gross but it smells delightful.  It works awesome!  I get compliments on the way my clothes smell, and they are CLEAN!  This is crazy?!?! 

I feel so domestic.  I feel like I belong in Little Women or some movie like that!?  I am making my own laundry detergent!!  How did we get so dependant on main stream products to stop making things ourselves?  I have over 3 gallons of laundry soap that cost me hardly anything!  You spend less each time you make it, because really you only have to buy the soap every batch because the boxes of Washing Soda and Borax last that at least 4-5 batches!  It is really amazing, and feels great to be doing something so close to being natural, and frugal! 

One batch lasted us 2.5 months.  I made mine in early October and I had to make my next right before Christmas.  We do at LEAST 6 loads a week (seriously I am being modest when I say 6, it may be more like 8 or 9 a week) so that is 60+ loads.

We aren't so strapped for money that we can't afford laundry soap or anything, but it's the principal of the matter!  Why pay $10+ a MONTH for this stuff if I can make it myself!?  As a up and coming couponer and frugal lady - this is one of the things that makes me proud and happy!  I love saving money on everyday things!!

By the way, I have front loading machines, HE and all and this works great.  No worries, no spills, nothing.  It's awesome.  Use about 1 cup for a regular load.  You'll be hooked, I swear!

January 20, 2012

The whole Kitchen caboodle

As I am staring into the face of a major kitchen overhaul, I am feeling overwhelmed!  I know, I know...that is normal.  I am just surprised at how MUCH I don't know.  As we start this project I know I'll be spending a lot of time in the home improvement stores asking a lot of annoying questions!  Of course, I have my mom too.  Thank you Jesus for a mother who is all about the DIY and does a lot of stuff all on her own.  She'll be my rock during this project!

The step I am on now is picking out paint.  It is SO hard for me!!  I want the kitchen to be yellow - but it needs to be the perfect yellow!  Our walls on our first floor are a tannish-camel color with some red accent walls.  Bright red.  We love the colors, they were here when we moved in.  Actually we painted the red accent walls a little brighter to match our big red couch, but it's basically the some color scheme.  Anyways, the yellow that I pick has to be the RIGHT yellow so that it goes with those colors - not clashes.  I hate all the yellows I've brought home so far.  Seriously, you should see our kitchen.  I have this one wall where I keep testing the colors, there are probably 7 shades of yellow there and I hate them all.  I know that I know that I KNOW I want yellow though.  Our theme in there is, or will be, Tuscan Italian Kitchen.  So it just has to be yellow!  I looked at other colors and I don't like them...or I do but they definitely wouldn't match!

I want yellow walls, and creamy white cabinets with oil rubbed bronzed hardware, and beautiful butcher block counter tops.  Possibly a back splash too - and lots of red and bronze or wrought iron accents.  I can see it in my head and it's lovely.  Here are some inspirational pics, stolen from Pinterest...one of my greatest loves and obsessions;)

This one is beautiful but a little too country for me, I want my yellow to be less buttery, more bright and brownish in a burnt, Italian way;)   Its all about the accents too - our accent will be more Italian...

Pinned Image

In this next one, I love the yellow of these tiles, it's close the the color I want if I can ever find it!!!  Our hardware (already purchased) is bronze though...

Pinned Image

and this one with darker butcher block - I don't know if I want to go that dark because it wouldn't match our floors but it's still beautiful, I love the bronze hardware:

Pinned Image

Tonight my friend Katie (HOLLA!) and I went to Lowes and I bought two more little sample cans of yellows...I have to have the samples to actually paint on my wall - because they are SO different on those little cards then they are in real life.  I agonized, yet again, over the perfect color.  It's out there somewhere!!  Hopefully one of these two will be it.

 I had a bad experience at Home Depot last week, so I am boycotting them this time around with buying paint.  I stood at the counter for about 20 minutes while the guy there was just helping EVERYONE else around me...totally ignoring me even though I had already asked him a question and he knew I needed samples.  What is worse, is that the people around me KNEW I had been there for a while, yet not one of them said, "Oh this lady was here first, you can help her..." which is totally something I would say if a clerk tried to help me first.  The world is a selfish place sometimes, isn't it?  I was not a happy customer...but I am not one to make a big stink to anyone, I'll just take my business else for now.  I'm sure I'll be back again for other things, but the paint section won't be seeing me for a while!

As I make the list of what needs to be done, I am struggling with what needs to be done first, second, etc.  Plus, I have to take $ into account.  We don't have a few extra grand laying around right now for the countertops or a back splash.  I don't know how much all that is going to cost, but I know it's going to be the most expensive part of the project.  Should we wait until we can afford it or go on with what we can afford and take care of the $$$ parts later.  Here is the list of to-dos:

1.  Rip up linoleum floor and replace with our extra Pergo flooring to match the rest of the 1st level
2.  Clean, sand, and paint the cabinets - we are refinishing them ourselves.  I've seen it done on Young House Love and I am convinced we can make them look like thousand dollar cabinets.
3.  Paint the walls
4.  Find and install a backsplash
5.  Install open shelves on our small empty wall for decor and use of space
6.  Add Italian accents (pops or red and wrought iron and rustic looking pieces)
7.  Paint the ceiling
8.  Replace the lighting - we have super awful fluorescent in there - GROSS.  I am envisioning a bronze type pendant(s) in there
9.  Add hardware to cabinets (already purchased from O.com)
10.  Add some sort of decor or interest to the soffits - I loathe all that empty wasted space (maybe old wine bottles on shelves?)
11.  add crown molding, possibly
12.  Eventually, down the road, replace all the appliances.  Right now they are all white and boring.  We want stainless steel

It's a long, expensive list.  It's overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.  I've never done this before, it's so huge that I scream a little in my head when I think about it!  But I am itching to get started on SOMETHING.  That's why I am obsessing over the paint a little bit.  I have picked out the paint for the trim and the cabinets - I happy with those colors.  Now I just need to find that elusive yellow...I'll keep you posted!!


January 19, 2012

I want to be a part of it, NY NY!

This past weekend we visited my family in South Orange, NJ.  My uncle, aunt and two cousins live there and they live a convenient distance from NYC.  It's about a 30 minute train ride.  We went into the city on Saturday and had a great time.  It was chilly!  Whew!  We saw 911 memorial and the building of the new Freedom Tower, it was crazy to see a building going up over the skyline of the buildings downtown again.  Surreal.

Here are some pics of our trip:

Here is the Freedom Tower, going up as the new WTC - it's going to be awesome!

Here are Dave & Ashley in front of one of the two memorial (North and South) pools of the 911 Memorial.

Here we are at S'MAC in the village.  This place was awesome!  It's a Mac & Cheese bar and they serve the M&C in little cast iron skillets, all different flavors!  We loved it so much I actually re-created a batch at home...read on for that recipe - YUM!

Dave got an Italian flavor one with basil, tomato and Italian cheeses.  Ashley got the American one, just cheddar and American cheeses with bread crumbs.  I got the buffalo chicken one, yummy but SO spicy!!  It's a small store front, and crowded, but worth the fight to get a table, trust me.

I can't seem to stay away from Disney, here I am in the princess portion of Disney Store Times Square.

Dave & I posing in busy Time Square!  My hat is way too big for my head, but hey, it kept me warm and it's really cute;)

Me at 30 Rock!

This is a pic of Rue57, my family's FAVE restaurant in NYC.  So yummy, soooo expensive, and so worth it!  It's the quintessential NYC restaurant with the ambiance and decor and food...and prices;)  If you go, get the Steak au Poivre or the Filet or the sushi or anything - its all delicious!

A moment for a smooch on the town;)

Here is a pic of my Mac & Cheese from S'Mac.  I was determined to make M&C this way...so here we go..

This version is a copy of their Alpine M&C which is Gruyere cheese and bacon. For their other flavors, check out their website & menu here

Alpine Mac & Cheese:

1 pound of elbows mac
16 oz of Gruyere cheese (I use applewood smoked, yummy!)
8-10 slices of bacon
4 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of flour
2-3 cups of milk
bread crumbs (I used Panko for more crunch)
parm cheese

Ok, directions:

Cook your elbows according the package:

Cook your bacon in your cast iron skillet.  After you are done, keep the skillet with the bacon juices.  Drain it so that there is just a thin layer of the juice leftover, enough to coat the bottom.  Bacon juice = everything is more yummy;)

Chop your bacon up.  Shred your cheese.  I actually didnt have enough cheese, I just used 8 oz.  It was still good but the M&C didnt come out as creamy as it should...I had to tweek the milk and roux ratio - but if you use 16oz use my suggested amounts listed above.  It'll be a lot yummier!

Get your milk and crumbs ready:)

In another saucepan, make a roux,  This ends up making a great base for your cheese sauce, trust me!
Melt your butter and then add the flour, mix together and frequently until it turns golden.  This will take about 5 minutes.

Add your cheese and stir until is fully melted.

Drain your mac and return the pasta pot.  Once your cheese sauce is all melty and gooey, add it to the pasta.

Then, add your lovely bacon.  Bacon does make everything better.  Just don't put it in everything, or you will gain 500 pounds!

Stir that up all together and then add this to the cast iron skillet that you cooked the bacon in.  You could also divide this up into little cast irons like S'MAC if you have them, for individual servings.  Or you make different cheese sauces and do different flavors in each - that would be really fun, but messy and lots of work.  But worth it.  Hmmmmm....anyways!  Add this to the skillet...

Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and Parm cheese - I just eyeballed this.  I covered the whole thing with both!  Bake it at 400 degrees until the top turns golden.  When it's done it'll look like this, and it will taste AMAZING!!

And that, folks, is how you make Mac & Cheese in a cast iron skillet.  Best M&C ever.  I can't wait to try this again with different flavors, and more cheese! 

Ok I am off to Lowes to pick out paint for the kitchen and learn how to finish the floors in there with our leftover Pergo flooring!  I love that when we bought our house, the sellers left TONS of Pergo floor tiles - our kitchen floor is so yucky, its that old gross tile, and Dave & I want to finish it to look like the rest of the first floor and we have more than enough Pergo to do that.  I just need to learn how:)  I can't wait to get his project under way!

January 11, 2012

Value meals, not the fast food kind!

These days I'm all about being frugal and finding value in every crook and cranny of our lives.  I am learning to appreciate how far we can stretch a dollar, or more!  For the first time in a while, both Dave & I have full time careers that we love and enjoy, which means we are re-learning the whole budget thing.  We want to pay off debt, and be able to save, and on top of that we like to LIVE like go out to eat and travel all over and you know...go on the occasional, but always frugally based, shopping spree;) 

Therefore, I love meals that I can get A LOT out of and so far the best "bang for my buck" is making a whole chicken in my trusty crock pot.  Not only is it super frugal friendly, but its so darn easy!  Sadly I don't have any pictures, I'll add them next time I do this - I JUST made this last night and I am kicking myself for not snapping a few! I 've been doing this meal(s) for about 5 months now - and I usually make this every other week.  Another reason I love it is that I can prep it at night, throw everything in the fridge, and then pop it all in the crock pot early in the am and let it cook all day while I try to counsel the young minds of Harford County.

BTW the crock pot or slow cooker is your best friend if you want easy, simple, frugal meals!  I can't wait to get our chest freezer so that I can take a Saturday and make around 20 meals for it and freeze them.  Life is easier with a slow cooker, I promise!!

Crock Pots =   love love love;)

Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot

1 small whole chicken (I usually use the 3-4lb ones that I can get on sale or clearance from Safeway or Shoprite)
1/2 bag of baby carrots
3-4 stalks of celery
1 small to medium onion

Rub: I usually just throw this all together and don't really measure it...play around with it and tweak to your tastes!
garlic salt

Clean and dry your chicken.  Chop all your veggies in to bite sizes.  Put the veggies on the bottom of your crock pot and place the chicken, breast side down, on top.  Stuff the chicken with some of those veggies and even a lemon if ya want.  Then, I rub mine with some olive oil and then sprinkle the rub all over, and put some inside, season it up right nice!  You do not need any liquid to this, I promise, it creates all it's own!  Put the lid on, set the time for 8-9 hours on low and leave it alone, go to work, go shopping, clean the house...whatever it is you want to do for that long and when time is up, you have a fully cooked, fully yummy chicken for dinner!  I serve with mashed potatoes and green beans, and I scoop up the veggies and serve them too.  SO good. 

It doesn't end there!!!  After dinner I may save a few meaty pieces for the hubs to eat again (he's always eating again!) and then I pick the chicken clean of all meat.  It's the grossest thing I've ever done and every time it makes me want to be a vegetarian...I try not to think too hard about it.  After I am done I have a bowl full of shredded chicken and then all the bones and juices from the chicken left in the crock pot.  I leave all the leftover "junk" in the crock pot and fill it about halfway with water.  I add a little salt and pepper, and a bay leaf, and then put the lid back on and turn it on to cook overnight.  In the morning you have a huge crock pot full of homemade broth!  Without all the crap that usually goes into broth.  Cool it down, skim the fat, and freeze it.  I freeze it in containers or bags in 2 cup quantities.  I get around 4-6 cups from each chicken.  Crazy right?  Saving money right there!

But wait!  There is still more!!  Aren't I just like a cheesy infomercial?  With the leftover shredded chicken, I make chicken soup.  Oh, its so yummy, so so yummy.  I learned from my MIL, her soup is awesome.  Actually, its her mothers (Grammy!) recipe.  I don't really use their exact recipe, I don't know it.  I stumbled onto it when I made my very first batch about 5 months ago and Dave said it was almost like his moms/grandmothers, minus the potatoes.   Well, now...I add potatoes too:)  Here is that recipe, I promise you won't be disappointed:

Chicken Soup: (can be tweaked easily if you need more or less)
Shredded chicken - I just use whatever is leftover
2-4 cups chicken broth (I always use my homemade broth for this - I use a 2-4 cups from the previous time I made all this, because the broth from THIS chicken isn't ready yet...if that makes sense)
1/2 bag of baby carrots, diced
3-4 stalks of celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
2-3 small potatoes, diced
2-3 cups of egg noodles
Lotsa pepper

In a big pot (I use my lovely green Martha Stewart dutch oven, it's my FAVE piece of kitchenware) toss in all the fresh diced veggies, and 2-3 cups of broth.  Cook until the veggies are nice and tender.  Then add the diced tomatoes and the chicken, and add more stock if needed (depending on how much "stuff" you put in there, you may need more).  Mix it all together and give it time on the burner to macerate (lol...let the flavors mix) and then throw the egg noodles in there.  I usually let it all simmer together for at least 20 minutes and then I season to taste with salt and pepper.  We like it peppery around here.  Sometimes I add a few red pepper flakes too for a little zing.  My recipes are usually my own measurement, so really live it up here and do what you like, add more or less veggies or different ones if you want, and season to your liking.  It could be better, but we love it just the way it is.  So so yummO;)

This soup is delicious.  We eat it for days and days.  That is why I love this meal!!  I get a whole meal just from the roasted chicken, and it's always a nice meal - sometimes I break out my lovely Kate Spade wedding china.  Then, I get a lot of broth/stock out of it.  THEN, I get 2-3 days worth of chicken soup from it.  You can't beat that for value!  Let me know if you do this too, or if you try it and love it.  I'm sure you will. 


January 9, 2012

Wegman deals, HomeGoods goodies, and more!

Happy Monday!

Was everyone as tired as I was today??  It was absurd, I can't be that tired!  I think it's the cold and the winter and the fact that it just seems so dark all the time.  I could get away with being a vampire in these parts these days;)

Yesterday I went to Wegmans to score some deals with coupons.  I love Wegmans because its soooo fancy, they have really cool stuff there, and I think that above all around here they have the best match ups for coupons.  I love shopping at ShopRite usually, because they have great deals beyond coupons although they do have some good match ups too, and I haven't had a lot of luck at Giant but I haven't tried too hard there yet because I don't go as much.  Wegmans never fails me though, when I shop there it feels like I am on Extreme Couponing watching the total get lower and lower and it is exciting!!  Here is what I bought last night:

2 pantene pro V
5 Ivory body wash (these smell DElightful!)
3 skintamit shave gels
2 International Delight (could have bought more but we don't have any more space in the freezer:/)
1 bag of Frozen veggies
1 French's Honey Mustard
2 jars Tabasco sauce
6 Sauve Shampoo/Conditioner
2 Boxes of Velveeta dinners (good for quick meals in a hurrrry)
1 Bag of Wegman brand chips

The total before sales a coupons was $55.77 and some change, and after coupons and deals I paid 23.16!  That's almost a 60% savings!  Yipee!!  No, it's still not 90% like the women on the show, I really DO NOT know how they do that...I am really trying.  Plus, I have enough bath & beauty products for me and Ash, and lots for Dave too, to last us over a year.  That's an awesome stockpile.  I only buy when I can get really great deals - otherwise I wouldn't bother stocking more!  I was pretty excited at the register, so was the guy that was the cashier - I chatted about how I find the deals and all that.  So fun!  Still room for improvement but I'll take it!

Tonight, we had a nice family night.   We went out to Chili's (coupon for free chips and queso in hand, always take a coupon!) then we went all around spending our Christmas gift cards.  Best Buy, Aero, AE, and ending with HomeGoods.  We had a good time!  Here was a fun find in HG:

 Dave's big joke with these was if they were dishwasher safe.  I actually think we should buy one, they are cute.  I could find a wall for one of them somewhere...sweet!

Enough of the jokes (no...but seriously want one) here are some things I did buy with my card from my sweet MIL:
 A globe.  Because, what is a house that is themed around travel if it does not have a globe?!  I scored this baby for $12.99.  Not too shabby! 

 Here is a wider shot of it on top of our shelf in a "NYC" dining area.  I love it already and can't imagine life without it;)

Then I bought these pillows, we've been looking all around for new pillows.  The silver one was supposed to be a pair but we couldn't find it in the store anywhere, so they marked it down for me.  Altogether the pillows were $35 and again...I love them and don't know how I ever lived without them!  LOL.

It's been a productive few days, in some ways.  In other ways, not so much.  The house is still a mess, coupons still need to be cut, laundry needs putting away, etc.  Can't win them all!  Tomorrow night is set aside to get stuff like that done.  For now, I need to go to bed - I need my sleep!  Night!

January 8, 2012

Why do we fail??

I was just surfing the web here and came across this. I am not a huge Dr. Oz fan or anything, I'm actually never home to see his show. Sometimes I catch the reruns on TV if I am at the right place and the right time (let's face it, I'm usually reading not watching TV!) and I do like what he has to say. This (click link below to video) spoke to me because he is talking about resolutions fail. He is talking more about better health which is a goal of mine, but I think all these concepts can apply to all goals we make. These are the top reason "resolutions" fail:

1. Discouragement - we mess up, or fail, and then quit
2. Not writing goals down
3. Not having a buddy
4. Meal Plan (aka actual PLANNING of a goal)
5. Sleep deprivation - a big one in health but also overall, who can get anything done when they are sleep deprived? Not me!!

Here is the Dr. Oz Video if you want to check it out!

So, I am going to listen to Dr. Oz!! I am going to expect that I fail in some of these goals, or that I may mess up or whatever, but it's not going to let me down. It is a process and if I could do any goal perfectly, well then it would not be a goal! I'll keep on striving for the goals I have set! I have already written my goals down, sorta, in my previous post. I am going to fancy it up a bit and make it pretty - so I can post them in the house too. I kinda have a "buddy" which is me sharing these with YOU - I would love it if you guys would post/comment your goals & resolutions on here too! Do you have a lot? Do you have just one? Are you nervous about making one? Plan plan plan, I am getting better at this. I bought a very lovely Erin Condren planner, details on that soon, and it helps me PLAN. Finally sleep, I love sleep! I am getting better at sleep - I usually try for at least 7 hours every night, I may try to bump that to 7.5 hours like Doc says. It's such an easy fix - and it's something I love to do. I call that a win/win.

Happy Sunday! Have a blessed and restful day!

January 7, 2012

Happy New Year!

Ahhh, 2012  What will you have in store for us?? I can't wait to see!

I love new years.  I love the inspiration it comes with, not that I need to be inspired to do a zillion things that may never get done;)  Our New Year started out fairly awesome, at Disney World's Hollywood Studios, and then on the 1st we jetted home to cold but no so cold Maryland.  I was instantly sick, but let's be honest, what is a winter without me being sick more the 50% of the time? 

Our trip to Disney was amazing!  We love it so, and can't wait to go back.  It's getting easier to plan the trips, and organize what we are going to do while we are there, etc.  I am becoming quite the Disney expert;)  Here are a few pics from our trip...

Ash & I at our resort with Roger Rabbit:)  This is Pop Century, FYI - highly recommend if you have kids, its awesome for them (which = awesome for you, trust me!)
 Us at Chef Mickeys - our favorite buffet restaurant!  It's in the Contemporary Resort which is SO cool!
 No trip to Orlando is complete without a quick trip to Hogsmeade!  This is Dave & I in HP world located in Islands of Adventure of the Universal Resort.
 Dave & Ash on one of my fave rides at Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Mania.  Of course, I beat them both with my scores.  Wow, I am very humble today;)
 Ash with her cute Mickey Ears, at Magic Kingdom.

The 3 of us outside Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom.

We were only in the parks for 4 days, but it was plenty of time and we rode all our fave rides and ate so much yummy food.  So worth the week of sickness I've had to endure since we've been back;)

On to life now!!!  What are your resolutions?  I hesitate to make them, because I never end up keeping them (hence my 120 book goal last year - but hey - I read A LOT of books even though I didn't hit that mark, so I have no regrets!)  I want to call them something else this year - maybe Lifelong Goals instead because I don't want to limit them to just this year.  These should be lifelong goals!  Anyways, here is what I want to get out of 2012 and beyond:

1.  Run more - I started the Couch to 5k in the fall, and have been slipping a bit since the holidays and I've had two major bouts of sickness, but I need to run more!  Running a 5k would be nice;)
2.  Try new recipes
3.  be more organized, however that may be
4.  Layering decor in the house - it's too matchy matchy in here and I want to introduce more color and pizazz to brighten our lives
5.  Kitchen project - Paint the kitchen and the cabinets, lay the new floor down, install cabinet hardware
6.  Read more, always read more!
7.  Get better at couponing
8.  Bring Pinterest to life, by this I mean actually DOING things and experiencing things that I pin
9.  Eat more fruit and veggies - honestly I am so bad at this!
10.  Use my time wisely - this goes for home and work, spending time with people who matter or being smart with free time when I have it!

I think 10 is enough;)  I tend to be an over-achiever, if ya didn't know, so 10 may be too too much.  I may think of a fun way to post these in the house somewhere so that I can see them daily and remember them.  Oh fun fun, another creative project to try!

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!!  I look forward to blogging with you:)