Monday, December 31, 2012

New Skills

I've known how to crochet in a while, in the most basic way possible. I have perfected the art of chaining and double crochets.  There, my knowledge ended.

It gets incredibly boring to only do double crochets.  A friend taught me to do a V stitch and suddenly my world opened up again- only to close back down when I got bored with that stitch.

I finally made the leap and purchased Crochet for Dummies.  I am usually much more of a visual learner, benefiting more by having a real teacher than trying to learn from a book or video (which I tried).  However, I've found it to be really helpful to have this book! Not only has it taught me several new stitches, I've got tabs on each page so I can quickly refresh my memory on some little part of a stitch- like the half double.  Do I yarn over first? I flip to my page and see yes- yes I do yarn over.

The book has also managed to teach me a rudimentary crochet circle!  I am planning on practicing a bit more, then finding a very easy amigurumi pattern and trying to make my first stuffed toy!  It will probably end up a stuffed dog toy, but we all have to start somewhere.

I'm really happy to finally taking my crochet to another level.  It is so relaxing and at the same time it is so empowering! You start with a little piece of yarn and then you make cloth.  You, all by yourself, create.  Dish towels, scarves, sweaters, toys- it doesn't matter what it is, you did it with nothing but a little hook and a ball of yarn. 

It's incredible.


Saturday, December 29, 2012


Ibotta is a coupon app that you have to have. It has been out for iphone for a while, but thankfully those of us with androids are not left out in the cold any longer!

Ibotta is easy to use.  You login and check their offers- for example, I had one for a 12 pack of Coke Zero.  You click that add, then can perform three tasks to add value to the coupon.  They are very simple- a one question poll, a "learn a fact" and watching a short video in this case.  Each task was worth 25 cents, so by doing all three, I earned a 75 cent coupon.  These coupons last a long time too and when you redeem one, they add a new one to your account!

You check the list of qualifying stores (Walmart and Target are on there, as are a laundry list of grocery stores), go to the store and buy your item.  I went to Harris Teeter during a sale and bought a 12pack of Coke Zero for $1.97. 

Take a picture of your receipt, submit it, then scan the barcode of the product(s) you purchased.  Within 15 minutes, I had been credit $0.75!   Since it was my first transaction, I also got a $5.00 bonus.

That's it!  I invite you, you get $5.00 when you do your first deal, I get $1.00 for referring you.  Once you have $5.00, you can request the money be sent to your paypal.  The end.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Disappointed After-Christmas Sales

I have to admit- I was sorely disappointed with the after-Christmas Sales this year.

I luckily didn't "need" much.  I had already made the decision to wait until wrapping paper and bags went to 75% off because I have such a good stock of them already.  We have plenty of Christmas cards and ornaments, so I was mainly there to find a replacement Christmas tree (ours burned out) and take advantage of any interesting little things- special candy, baking items, etc.

Target was a bit of a disappoint, as I knew it would be. They had no Christmas trees, the candy was 30% off or less and paper goods were impossible to find.  It looked like a tornado had hit the store, but I accept that is due to rude shoppers and not due to anything Target did.  Most of the baking items weren't on sale and there were no dog toys or anything else of interest there.  They appeared to mostly have ornaments and wrapping paper left.

Walmart was a bigger waste of time-the first one had almost nothing.  The second Walmart did yield a green, pre-lit Christmas tree (we got the only one there that was pre-lit with white lights!) and I found a table top white tree.  It is much smaller than what I was looking for, but it will work for my purposes.  We picked up very little else- I found a small travel cup that was on sale for half off, but most of the candy and food items we were interested in were not on sale at all, even though they were in the Clearance aisle.  Tricky Tricky Walmart.

The best yields came from Bath and Body Works and Michaels.

At Bath and Body Works I spent $38 and saved $90.  Considering $30 (not including tax) was spent on Christmas gifts for five folks next year, that isn't bad at all! :).  I also splurged on a few little $3 body washes for myself.

Michaels is where I did my best deal of the day.  I bought myself a crochet needle case with 24 needles in it for $17.50!  It had normally been $35, but they had a 50% off one item coupon and I was quick to take advantage of it. 

Overall, it appears to me that stores are stocking less merchandise for the holidays. I've heard from numerous people that some are taking apart certain gift baskets and selling the items individually for regular price- which seems to me to be illegal.

I think more people are out and about hunting the deals.  The crowds are pushing shoppers to get up earlier and earlier- I just refuse to be up at 5am to be out shopping.  

I suspect this year will be my last year of feverish after-Christmas shopping.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kellogg's Family Rewards

Do you use many Kellogg's products? Maybe you don't, but you don't mind keeping an eye out for free codes- if this is the case, I need to tell you about Kellogg's Family Rewards.

KFR is a reward program that allows you to enter free codes and codes from inside Kellogg's packages.  You can then redeem them for prizes- coupons, instant win games, or physical items like totes, magazine subscriptions, toys, etc.

You can also use their facebook app to spin "the wheel" 3 times a day for free and you could win points or even free groceries.

I currently have 825 point without buying a single item.  Not bad.

  • EZ25POINTSFORKFR (25 points)
  • KFRGIFTOFSAVINGS (50 points)
  • KFRDELTAENTERNOW (50 points)
  • COSTOFCEREALPOLL (10 points)
  • KFRFAVPOPTARTS10 (10 pts)
  • TAKECAREOFYOU20P (20 pts)
  • MARIECLAIRE50PTS (50 pts)
  • FOODNETMAG50PNTS (50 points)
  • KFRNOWONFACEBOOK (20 points)
  • goodhousemag50pt (50 points)
  • redbookKFR50pnts (50 points)
  • KFRFREEGROCERIES (50 points)
  • MYFAVCHARACTER50 (50 points)
  • HALLOWEENPARTY25 (25 Points)
  • JOINKELLOGG2SAVE (50 Points)
  • HOWITWORKS20PNTS (20 points)
  • KFRFIBERPLUSPOLL (10 points)


There is an app out called Ibotta. It has been out for Apple products for a while, but has only recently become available for Android users as well.

You download the app to your phone and then have the opportunity to access money back offers- for instance, one of my offers is for a 12 pack of Coke Zero.  You do little tasks to increase the monetary value, then scan the item and take a picture of your receipt when you buy it.  Bam! I would get $0.75 back if I were to purchase the Coke Zero right now.

It's worth taking a look, it is an excellent way to save money and possibly even get the items for free if you pair a good sale with good coupons!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Half Priced Pizza

If you are looking for a quick meal, here you go-

You can use the code 50DEC on to get 50% off any regular priced large pizza.  I was able to get a pizza with more toppings than I normally do for less money- 6 toppings for $9.87 including tax.

I do not know how long this code will last, but my guess is through December.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

I've been a bit quiet this weekend as far as the blog goes. 

I, like I imagine most of you were, was glued to the tv and the internet sites, looking for updates on the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of so many.  As the death toll numbers climbed higher, my heart sank lower.

As the names and ages, the pictures and the stories emerged, the tears started.  I wish I could say they have ended, but they haven't.

I was privileged to hear Tim speak on the tragedy in church on Sunday.  Privileged because he had written a different sermon.  He decided less than an hour before bed on Saturday evening that he would speak on the shooting instead.  He didn't write the sermon- he opened his mouth on Sunday and the beautiful words just came out.

He answered the question we all ask- Where was God?

God was with the custodian who ran down the hall calling warnings, with the person in the office who turned on the intercom to alert the classrooms to trouble.  He was with the principal and the school psychologist as they ran towards the shooter, not away.  He was there with the teachers who hid their children in bathrooms and closets, with the teacher who reached into a hallway to pull a child to safety as bullets flew past and with the teachers who used their bodies to shield their students.  He was with the children themselves, as they followed instructions, as they watched out for each other- as one child said "It's ok, I know karate.  I'll lead the way out."  He was with everyone who chose to preserve, to build, to help that day.

Tim told us something else important- this was not God's Will.  People will try to justify it by saying God had a plan and it was for these children to die. God needed the children more than we did.  Others will say God killed the children and wonder how a loving God could do such a thing.

God didn't kill these babies and these educators. We have the opportunity to build and we have the opportunity to destroy, through the free will that God grants us.  A person killed these children.  A person who made a terrible decision.  Noah, one of the little boys killed, had a twin sister who lived because of the decisions her teacher made. 

We can't change the events that unfolded in Newtown.  We can't say the words that will magically take the pain out of the hearts of every person there- and in people across the country and the world.  There are no words to say.   Maybe one day Noah's sister, shaped by the events of today, will do something incredible in honor of the brother she won't get to grow up with.  Maybe those of us who are blessed in that we aren't experiencing this tragedy from such a personal level will hold our loved ones tighter, tell them we love them more often.

The lasting memorial of these children and teachers is Love.  Love harder, love stronger, love more often.  Love those around us who need it, whether they are our relations.  When we rise out of the ashes with love, we take a step forward, a step closer to a better world.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Terrible Tragedy

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."- Fred Rogers

Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Connecticut who have been affected by the terrible events of today.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Taking Control of the Clutter

I'm slowly trying to take control of the clutter in this house.  Unfortunately with Tim sick and us being so busy, it has gone to hell in a hand basket.

With the addition of the new tv and the new tv stand, we suddenly have so much more room in the living room.  This has led to our ability to move an old bookshelf in to the living room to put our movies and tv shows on and remove the wobbly old stand that didn't hold nearly enough of what I needed it to hold.

I cleaned out under the china cabinet and boxed the dishes and things I wasn't using up.  They are headed out to the storage building first thing in the morning.   I filled up that space with extra kitchen appliances- one of the four crockpots went in, as did the dehydrator.  I'm hoping I can get something else under there, but I'm not going to hold my breath.  As it is, it's nice to have these two items off the counter.

I organized a closet recently- that yielded a Walmart bag full of clothing to go to the "Common Threads" clothing giveaway that Tim's churches trade off hosting.  A box full of old games are going to find their way to Goodwill, along with some duplicate books and knick knacks that are just gathering dust.

I managed to find a half dozen items that still had decent value on Amazon.  I'm pleased that the most expensive one has already sold! It's not much, but it is one less piece of junk to sit around and a little more money in my pocket!

Several additional Christmas gifts have been wrapped and are under the tree.   We may not have many decorations up and there won't be many presents, but hey- the ones that are there look good.

I've discovered why I can never get ahead on the house work.  I had been working for only 20 minutes or so when Tim started urging me to stop.  I think he was terrified I was going to ask him to help.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

$5 off "The Hobbit" Movie Ticket from Fandango

Go here and enter your email address to be alerted to when The Hobbit is available for pre-order!  They will email you a coupon code for $5 off a ticket to see The Hobbit from Fandango.

My code came pretty much instantly!

The site is getting hit kind of hard right now, so keep trying if you don't get through immediately!

Dollar General Coffee Deal

My friend Melanie shared this with me!

Dollar General Online Coffee Deal:

Maxwell House Wake Up Roast Coffee - 30.65-34.5 oz - $5.00
SAVENOW coupon at check out for $5 off $25
Free shipping on orders over $25

6 large coffee's for $26.?? with shipping and tax.

PLUS 2% cash back from Ebates!

Thanks Melanie!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Check the Fine Print

We bought a TV Stand yesterday and it just happened to be Better Homes and Garden brand.  With the stand came a deal- a free year subscription to the magazine of the same name.

I have no need for this magazine, but before tossing the little "free subscription card", I read it. 

Turns out, you can turn in a copy of your receipt and the subscription card for a rebate!  By writing REFUND on the card and filling out the information, I am going to get $6 back.  That doesn't quite cover the tax on the tv stand, but hey- if you saw $6.00 lying on the ground, wouldn't you stop to pick it up?  If you knew you could spend 45 cents (the price of a stamp) and get $6.00 back...wouldn't you do it?

Of course you would.

So the moral of the story is- take a few seconds and read those offers.  Chances are, you can get money back if it is something you aren't interested in.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Bah Humbug

It's official- I'm the grinchiest grinch of them all this year.

I've decided those Christmas decorations are just not getting put up this year.

The Christmas tree is out and mostly undecorated.  It is a pre-lit fake tree and half of the lights on the top portion suddenly winked out.  It felt a bit like putting lipstick on a pig to decorate the tree and then have the lights not working, though some friends sent us a beautiful bunny ornament- it is holding court in the middle of the tree, sparkling in it's singular glory.

The mantle remains unadorned- not stocking are going to be hung with care by the chimney this year and I don't even have a good place to put out the Nativity scene, so that probably won't happen either.

We have had so much going on and with it being approximately two weeks until Christmas, I just don't feel like going through the hassle of spending all night decorating, only to have to take it down so soon afterwards.

I just don't care about Christmas this year.  I'm so tired of the freaking out over presents and having to go to everyone's Christmas parties even though everyone there would rather be anywhere else.  No one ever comes to our house, so why should I kill myself trying to make it looks festive?

At least it is almost over.  Bah Humbug.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Sales

I have to work the Day After Christmas this year. 

I'm actually really sad, because I do so much after christmas shopping.  We all know this is the BIG one- the time even folks who aren't frugal shoppers rush out to buy. 


I normally stock up on Christmas bags, wrapping paper and cards (or, if I'm feeling daring, I wait until they go 75% off! It depends on how the stockpile looks) as well as Christmas packaged food and paper goods, paper plates, etc.

It's also a great time to get those "candy cane" rawhides for the dogs, since they also go half off.

Some folks do all their Christmas/Birthday/Mother's Day/etc shopping the day after Christmas. I have always been torn on that.  I will ABSOLUTELY buy "little something" gifts and gifts for the Christmas parties we have to go to each year. 

I kind of feel bad buying those baskets of soap that obviously come from Walmart at Christmas time and then giving them as gifts in June.   We all know what the Walmart stuff looks like.  We all know you bought the $15 basket for $7.50.

However- you let me find nice, non-obviously-Christmas-Clearance-gifts and I am all over that. 

I also like to shop for any decorations or items I just have to have.  This year I think we need a new Christmas tree, since half the lights have burned out and I'm tired of hotwiring it each year and wrapping the exposed wires in electrical tape.  This is when we buy Tim his inflatables.

Last year I bought a mini doughnut maker.  Just for fun.

So, while I won't be expecting the haul I usually bring away, I should still be able to score some good deals after I get off work.  I'm just sad I won't get to enjoy a yearly tradition- but hey, at least I am employed!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A use for bread ties-

Not my picture- I can never even FIND my tape!

So simple and easy.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Free 3.5lb bag of Hill's Science Diet Hairball Control Cat Food

Go quickly to Petco's Facebook page and enter to get your free 3.5lb bag of Hill's Science Diet Hairball Control Formula Cat Food!

This is a great item to donate to your local animal shelter if you don't think your animals will want to eat it.


PetSmart Friends and Family 15% off!

The PetSmart Friends and Family Weekend is coming up December 6th- 9th!  You get 15% off your entire purchase with this printable coupon.

Don't forget to check out the Purina Holilday Bucks items- you can stack a $5 Purina register coupon with the 15% off coupon to score better deals on pet food and cat litter!  Be sure to check your newspaper and online for any manufacturer's coupons on pet items you buy- they also stack with the 15% off store coupon.

I can't wait, we always buy multiple bags of dog and cat food, to tide us over until the next sale!


Friday, November 30, 2012

50% off Papa Johns

Now through 12/02/12, you can get 50% off any regular price pizza order on by using the code "Pepsi50" or "50pizza"

Great for when you don't want to cook hehe. Too bad we did this last weekend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Lesson

A saw a Little Blue Heron this morning.

I was driving in to work and suddenly to my right, a creature appears- the color of dark, winter storm clouds- ponderously clawing its way vertically into the air.  It labored for several moments as I turned into the parking lot of my job.  When I turned back to look, it suddenly shot forward, gliding effortlessly along. 

If I hadn't seen it struggle, I would have never known how hard it was to take to the air for the Little Blue Heron.  If I hadn't continued to watch, I wouldn't have seen everything suddenly turn beautiful.

The Little Blue Heron was amazing to watch fly.  Even when things got difficult, he never gave up- a few more strokes and he knew he'd be soaring.  That's just what happened.

It is easy to see someone flying and think "They have it so easy."  It's easy to look at our struggles and think "I'll never claw my way out of this mess, this trouble."  You never know what they went through, only to finally have their moment to ride the wind.

This winter, when I see the storm clouds, I'll remember the Little Blue Heron.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Controlled Shrinkage

I went shopping with my sister-in-law this past weekend.  We were just messing around before we went out for her birthday dinner, so she suggested we stop in to Cato and see what they had that might interest us.

I found a black shirt I really liked for only $6.99, but it was a Large.  I've lost over 30 pounds at this point, so Larges aren't really in my range anymore.  Still, she convinced me to try it on and ultimately convinced me to buy it, saying it didn't look "bad", even though I thought it looked entirely too big.

I get home, get ready to put it on and it's even bigger than I remembered.

I have two choices at this point- donate it, or try something a little risky.

I went with risky.

Tim is the King of shrinking clothing. I can not tell you how many shirts I've lost to his washing "skills" over the years- far too many, believe me.   I was trying to tap those powers of evil for a greater purpose this time.

I tossed the shirt to him and asked him to shrink it for me.  He looked completely confused, obviously trying to figure out if it was a trick.

"What if I shrink it too much?"
"Doesn't matter, I can't wear it now anyway, just go for it."
"Ok, well that won't be hard. You can't get mad at me."

So away I went to work and away he went to do the oh-so-possible...shrink my new shirt.

With trepidation, I tried the shirt on today.  I could tell it had shrunk right around an inch in length (it's black with a lacy front on it over an attached black shirt).  I put it on, he waits, breath held-

It fits!
Tim did the perfect job in his attempt at "controlled shrinkage".  It fits beautifully (well, it still could have gone down a little more and that would have been fine).  I wish you could have seen his face- he beamed and then began telling me his "method" for shrinking the shirt.

Whatever, I'm just happy it fits!

Note to self: Don't believe the sister in law when she says things look fine.  She is lying.


Free Sample of Beneful Tuscan Style Medley

Go to Beneful's Facebook page, like it, and then get your free sample of their new Beneful Tuscan Style Medley food!  Available to the first 100,000 that request it.

I use little special samples like this as "stocking stuffers" for my dogs at Christmas.  Since this one will take 4-6 weeks, it may be their New Years treat.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Decorating for Christmas

It's after Thanksgiving now and a lot of folks are thinking about decorating for Christmas.

Shoot, scratch that- a lot of people have already decorated.  I saw tons of houses that had all their outdoor decorations up before Thanksgiving Day.

I typically wait until December 1st to put up our tree and allow Tim to put his beloved inflatables in the front yard.  It serves a two-fold purpose: 1.) We continue to use less power until all those lights end up getting plugged in and 2.) I can procrastinate.

Maybe I am crazy, I just prefer to wait until December gets here to start worrying about Christmas- the Most Stressful Time of the Year.

My goal this year is to curb any impulse to buy new decorations.  Every year we end up with more and more crap to put out! Perhaps it is time to retire some of the old decorations anyway.


ETA: I came home from work, guess what was greeting me from the front yard?  All three of Tim's inflatables.  "Well it was warm, I thought it would be easier to get them up now."  Bah humbug.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Great Deals!

I wrote this post before the Black Friday sales, but it never ended up getting published:

I'm so excited- I've had some great deals this past weekend (besides the clothing).

We got a $10 "Shop Your Way" Rewards credit (Kmart/Sears) because Hurricane Sandy affected NC a little bit.  Don't ask me why, they emailed it to me, I didn't go looking for it.   I took that $10, combined it with $0.07 I had already earned (heyyy big spender....) and purchased 2 jars of spaghetti sauce and 4 heat-and-eat quick meals, plus a tub of frosting for $1.71 out of pocket! Yay.

This pads our panty a little bit, though believe me when I say it was super tempting to blow it on something fun.

Today, we ran to Target.  I picked up 4 cans of Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup (on sale for $0.75 each), 2 boxes of Betty Crocker's Au Gratin Potatoes ($1.00 each) and a Glade Smelly Good something or other start kit ($5.99), for which I had a free product coupon.   At first, the cashier didn't actually ring up the Glade, so my free product coupon made the whole order free! Yes, I corrected him, because he looked terribly confused.

It ended up, after my $1/4 soup coupon and $0.50/2 potatoes coupon that I paid $1.00 for everything I bought.  Wait what?

We got to the car and I checked the receipt- when he scanned the free Glade coupon, it gave me the "up to $8.99" value, not the cost, which was $5.99. Thank you very much Target, I appreciate the overage!

I also purchased a tube of Colgate MaxFresh toothpaste from CVS and used a $1 ECB.  That means I paid $1.87 and I got a $2 ECB back! Yay for free/money maker toothpaste.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Appliances for $1 at Kohls!

Go to your ebates account (or sign up, if you haven't!)
Use their search tool to find "Kohls", and click the shop now button.

Once you are at Kohls, search for 3 of these 4 appliances (you can't get duplicates to do this deal because of the rebates- 1 rebate, per item, per household)

  • Bella Rotating Waffle Maker — $19.99
  • Presto Cool Touch 20-in Electric Griddle — $19.99
  • Crock-Pot 4qt Programmable Slowcooker — $19.99
  • Black and Decker 10-Speed Blender — $19.99
Add 3 of the appliances to your cart.

Use the coupon code "BlackFri" when you go to check out- you'll save 15%!  This will put your total at $50.97 before tax.  Shipping is free!

You get $15 Kohls cash for spending over $50.

Fill out 3 rebates found here for $30 back.

You will receive $3.05 back from ebates for shopping through their link.

This means your total is approximately $2.92 for all 3 appliances!


Thanks Couponing to Disney!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Save Money- Eat Soup!

Well, one good thing about late fall and winter is that it is the perfect weather for soup.

Soup is the perfect food for saving money.

I purchased a package of Bear Creek Potato Soup Mix at Walmart the other day.  It cost $3.89, give or take a few cents.

I put the small package in to 8 cups of boiling water and voila- I end up with 8 cups of soup.  Toss in some grated cheddar cheese, put a piece of bread on the side and there we have it- a cheap dinner.   We end up with around 6 bowls of soup.  Over the course of those 6 bowls, we use less than a bag of shredded cheese ($2.00) and the amount of bread is such a negligible price, but let's call it $0.10 per slice.

So the total for 3 meals for myself and Tim is $6.49.  It works out to $1.09 per person, per meal.  You can toss in a little ham (great use for leftover Christmas ham) and it ups the price a little, but still- where else can you go and get a full meal for $1.09?

Now is the time to invest in an excellent soup cookbook or start flipping through old books for new recipes.  It's a great way to find cheap dinner ideas- plus there is the opportunity for leftovers!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Make ahead Cookies

Do you do a lot of baking? What about around the holidays?

Try making your dough ahead of time, or doubling your recipe when you are making cookies.  Take the extra dough and roll it out into a block about an inch thick and the size of the bag you want to store it in.  Score the dough (you can take something as simple as a toothpick to score it), then freeze the dough and simply snap off however many frozen cookie dough blocks you need later on!

You can also put the dough in ice cube trays and flash freeze it.  Then pop the dough out of the trays, put them in a freezer bag or food saver back and stick them in the freezer until needed.  It will save you a lot of time, mess and money later on!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Advertising

I remember when I was younger- tearing in to my stocking on Christmas Morning.  There it was- that shape, that size- it couldn't be...but no, it had to be!

"OH MY GOSH!" I would jump up and down and scream, the excitement threatening to stop my young hear- "Look! Look what I got! It's a toothbrush!"

Uh no.  I don't think so. 

I was flipping through a magazine and saw an ad for Colgate spinning toothbrushes....advertised as stocking stuffers.
Really? What kid has ever put a toothbrush on top of their list to Santa?

Advertisers are getting more and more odd in their attempts to sell us things.  I'm fairly certain that no 8 year old is going to beg his mom to buy him a $4.00 container of shampoo to put under the tree for Christmas.  Men, if you give your wife pots and pans, a vacuum, teeth-whitening strips or anything vaguely related to cleaning supplies, you're in for a very un-Merry Christmas indeed.

My second favorite commercials are the kind where someone buys someone else a $35,000 car for Christmas, without their knowledge.  Then puts it in the front yard with a big bow on it and again, they have no idea.  You know, because half of all households get a new luxury sedan for Christmas without one party consulting the other in any way.

Ahhh Christmas Advertising.  How I didn't miss you at all, but here you are, early to the party again.


Friday, November 9, 2012


Contrary to popular belief, I do enjoy shopping- if I have a good enough coupon.

I had one of these for Kohls recently- one of my favorite clothing stores.  Not only were they running their "Kohls Cash" promotion (purchase $50 in items, get a $10 coupon back for use the next week, no limit), there was clearance around- and I had received a 30% off coupon in the mail.

Yes.  It was clearly time to go clothes shopping.

Now, to begin with, there is one thing they do not tell you about Kohls cash.  It has to be $50 after coupons. I've always thought that was kind of tacky.  It isn't like other stores where you can stack a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon and really walk away with a steal- you can only save as much as they let you, because they control the coupons and the wording.

Hmpf.  But anyway-

I found several things I wanted, then headed to checkout.  My total rang up around $75 and I probably whipped out my 30% off coupon.

"Oh, are you going to use your Kohls Charge?"

"Nope!"  I had been planning on using my credit card, which is netting me 5% cashback currently.  Take that Kohls and your tacky policy.

"Oh- to use this coupon you have to use the Kohls Charge."

Eurgh.  I will some day remember to watch the fine print on those stupid coupons they send me.  So fine, I whip out the Kohls Charge, because saving 30% is better than 5% cashback and my total before tax drops to $50.10- just enough to get me that $10 in Kohls Cash.  Buwahaha, couldn't have worked that out any better if I'd been using a calculator.

Much to the annoyance of the cashier, I insisted on turning around and paying off my charge balance right then and there.  See, that's yet another tricky thing about Kohls. You can only pay off your balance with cash or a check.  It takes a magic trick to figure out that the interest rate is 21.9% on that card- 24.9% if you are late making a payment.

Coupons are all well and good, but I don't play the interest game. Because I know I have to look for a separate bill (one I am not used to seeing and wouldn't notice if it was missing) if I use the Kohls charge, I insist on paying the balance off 100% at the time of purchase, even if it takes two transactions to do it.  I'm a pain in the rear that way.  Having been burned once with an unscrupulous credit card company that would hold transactions until right before they came due, charge them to the card, then hit me with 20+% interest, I tread very lightly.

So- moral of the story is always read the fine print.  I guess.  Not really sure what the moral of this post is, other than I got some new clothes on discount! Buwahaha.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Black Friday Ad- Walmart

Walmart has already released their 2012 Black Friday Ad.

Not only that, some of their deals start at 8:00pm on THANKSGIVING DAY.  Target is starting their sales at 9:00pm, from what I've heard.

I think this is a huge shame. It's not enough that Christmas items are being put in stores before Halloween even arrives, but now the sales are starting at 8:00pm on Thanksgiving?  One of the few holidays we have that aren't centered around buy, buy buy?

I'm all about saving the money, but hey- can't we keep the sales to "Black Friday"?  Why rush through one of the (probably) few meals the entire family gets to anymore, to go get some discount DVDs?   Some people will spend all of Thursday and perhaps a good chunk of Wednesday lining up outside of stores to be the first in to the sales.

I get it.  Times are hard for a lot of us.  To give your kids the Christmas you think they want or deserve, you're willing to make a lot of sacrifices and that includes giving Thanks for what you do have and spending time with your family, but c'mon retailers! We'll all get up at the crack of dawn on Friday- don't push this to Thursday.

I feel bad for anyone that works in retail right now.  Think of the people who won't get the choice to spend time with their families because they have to work.

It just makes me sad.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Holiday Bucks are back at Petsmart!

I am so inordinately excited about this deal from PetSmart I just had to write up this blog immediately.

Holiday Bucks are back at PetSmart!  Basically, when you buy any of the products above, you look for a little red ornament shaped logo on the Purina or Science Diet products that mentions $5 Holiday Bucks.

Use your PetSmart PetPerks membership when you buy one or more participating items and a $5 coupon will print on your receipt.  This receipt coupon is good on your next purchase of ANY Science Diet or Purina Purchase.

My recommendation is that you "roll" this $5 forward by only purchasing one eligible item per transaction to get the most "bang for your buck", since you will only get one coupon per Purina and/or Science Diet item purchase, no matter how many items you buy.  The last time this was around, I stocked up on a mountain of cat litter- $5 off each bucket except the first one I bought, plus they are stackable with manufacturer's coupons.

This really is a great time to stock up on cat litter, or buy a few bags of food for your pets as long as you have a good place to store it.  With three dogs and three cats, storage isn't much of a problem around here, as my guys can really put away the food.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Reusing Cat Litter Containers

We have three cats. Believe me when I say we go through a lot of Tidy Cats. So often, we have a ton of large, plastic storage containers sitting around and there is a ton you can do with them.   First though- wash them out with the hose.  Then pour in some vinegar, swish it around, add some water, swish it around, dump it, rinse it, rinse it again, maybe add some bleach, add some water, rinse, rinse, rinse.  It never hurts to be too cautious in making sure these are completely clean.

Not my picture- wish it was!

Planters! Rather than going out and buying large tubs to keep your plants in, why not repurpose something you have already paid for?  Yes, they could be more attractive, but hey, feel free to cover them.

Animal Food Storage.  I keep our rabbit and chicken feed in these containers, but know plenty of people that pour cat and dog food in to them as well.

Garden Harvester.  If you have a large garden, a clean cat litter container (especially the smaller ones), could be excellent to help you bring your harvest in.

Compost buckets.  This one seems self explanatory.

Cat Litter.  Yes, you heard me.  Sometimes there are awesome deals on cat litter, but only the kind that comes in bags.  I hate those.  Why not just pour the bagged cat litter in to the better containers? Simple.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finding the Beauty in Winter

Why, Hello there November.   Are you here so soon?  It seemed like just a few weeks ago I was seeing the back end of you and your vicious cold weather friends December and January, yet here you are again.

Today is cold.  It's also the first time I've seen most of the sky a color other than gray and it is beautiful- a beautiful "Carolina" blue with wisps of gorgeous white clouds dotted here and there.   The air is crisp, but it's clean.

I'm trying to learn to appreciate winter- to find the beauty in it. 

It's easy to find Spring beautiful.  There is a riot of colors as the flowers bloom and the trees bud.  The weather warms, the grass comes back and of course, the wild animals wake up, the birds come back and everywhere little creatures emerge.

It's easy to find Summer beautiful.  The skies are blue, the grass is soft and green under bare feet and it's the time to play.   Days are long, temperatures are warm and we still have flowers to enjoy, not to mention the beautiful colors of a garden ripening.  We are treated to such beautiful, golden sunsets.

It's easiest to find Autumn beautiful. The temperatures are perfect, the skies are still blue, the gardens are winding down, but they are still producing.  The colors of the trees rival the beautiful range of spring flowers.  The wild animals are everywhere as they prepare for the winter.  The sunsets come earlier, but they are still beautiful- not as golden as those in the Summer, but fiery in their own right.

It's hardest to find Winter beautiful.  A newly fallen snow beautiful- but it is soon melted and muddied, it's pristine beauty ruined by dog tracks and people tracks.  The winds are harsh, the temperatures cold.  The animals are gone, hibernating or in the warmer places they've migrated to. The colors are gone- the only greens the evergreen trees.  The rest of the trees are stark against the cloudy skies, bare of leaves and birds.  It seems like the world is painted in muted tones and gray.

This year, I will find the beauty in winter.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

French Onion Soup

The French Onion soup recipe I tried was...a success! I was worried because I'd never made it before, but found a recipe about how to can it.

I had originally planned to make a huge batch and do a lot of canning, but the onions were so tear-inducing that I gave up and just made a batch for us to eat for dinner.

Ok, the batch ended up big enough a dozen people could come eat for dinner, but who's counting servings?

I'm going to tweak the recipe a little (cause you know what I do), then I'll post it here!


Free $1.29 MP3 code from Amazon!

If you go here and share your favorite party song (it can be any song, I chose to enter "Thriller"), you will have a $1.29 MP3 code automatically added to your account!  You can use it for any type of music you want- use it towards an album, get multiple songs (some are on sale for 69 cents each) or get a new release for the full $1.29.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hotel Transylvania

We went to see Hotel Transylvania the other week.  I have been excited for the movie, Tim- well he wasn't so excited.

We took the 10 year old with us after clearing it with her mom.  We settled in and prepared to either be wow'd or disappointed- there really was no middle ground that I could see.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about- Hotel Transylvania is an animated movie currently out in theatres.  Dracula (Sandler) builds a hotel for monsters, safe from persecution from humans.  As his daughter Mavis's 118th birthday approaches, he plans a huge party for his baby girl- only to discover that somehow a human has found his way in to the hotel.

It was great!
This movie was Adam Sandler at his best.  He was fully able to be goofy and over the top, but we didn't have to look at him.  I really think that made all the difference.  No crazy faces and odd gestures to distract from the actual movie.

The plot line was cute and had all of us laughing, though the 10 year old we were babysitting cracking up the most.  Her new favorite thing is to walk around and quote a few memorable parts from the movie.  High praise from the kid who originally wanted to see Frankenweenie instead.

It's definitely worth seeing.


Monday, October 29, 2012


I've always joked I'm part squirrel, because I love to "squirrel" things away.  I've got a tendency towards pack-ratty-ness, but thankfully nothing Hoarder level.

I think this is why canning appeals to me so much.  I've got the opportunity to take too much of something (like too many tomatoes, too many peppers, etc) and turn it in to something I can store and use later- salsa, canned tomatoes, stew fixings, etc.

Imagine how excited I am right now to have a bag of apples, a carving pumpkin and five pie pumpkins sitting on my dining room table, waiting to be stored. 

I'm expecting to use most of the pumpkins to can pumpkin pie filling- that way when I want to make one, I have it already cooked and spiced- voila! Tim has guilted me in to making some more apple butter, so that takes care of the apples.

However- I've got something new to can that is making me all kinds of excited:

French Onion Soup!  That's one of those things that is yummy, but can be a pain to make, between cutting the onions, caramelizing them, etc- plus you end up making too much and you mess up a lot of dishes, spoons, etc.

I'm planning on making a big batch of the soup and canning it in to more manageable portions (sans cheese and croutons of course), so any time we want some, we can just eat it up and eat. Look for that post soon.

Canning is definitely a good way to direct my "storing" tendencies.  It leads to less mess, less clean up and more good food for us! Yum yum.


Free Taco Bell!

A base was stolen in the World Series!  You know what this means-

Tuesday, October 30th from 2pm-6pm, you can get a free Doritos Locos Taco from Taco Bell!

I know what Tim will be eating for dinner!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

No Eggs and Other "Homestead" Thoughts

I am now longing for the days when we had dozens and dozens of eggs- so many we were having to boil them and feed them to the dogs. 

It has been two weeks now and there have been no eggs laid.  The Ameracaunas and the Australorp are still too young, the bantams have apparently gone on strike.  They appear to be in a molt, but still- I need some eggs!

I procrastinated too long in making the winter garden.  The first round of seedlings died and we've been so busy I haven't given much though to replanting them.  I may try starting some lettuce in a pot, but I haven't really decided yet.  I hate to not have anything growing right now.

In another week, the Florida White bunnies will be here!  Tim's ultimate goal for these guys is to transition them to a natural diet and transport them down to Haiti.  There they will become the foundation stock to breed animals for meat and perhaps even pelts.   Before they do that, they will provide us and the dogs with meat. Exciting!

It's also hunting season! We don't purchase beef anymore, having decided to mostly eat venison.  While we have quite a bit in our deep freezer right now, who can turn down more delicious roasts and backstrap?  My Dad has even managed to talk us in to going hunting with him.  The last time I went, my little brother caused us to miss a shot on a beautiful buck.  I hope we have luck this time!

I have a pumpkin and a bag of apples that need to be processed.  I'm going to can the pumpkin to have ready-pumpkin-pie filling. Tim has also demanded a return of the seasoned pumpkin seeds.  I haven't decided if the apples will be apple chips or apple butter yet. Either way, the rabbits and the chickens will be thrilled with the cores!

So there we have it- while we're short on eggs and vegetables right now, we're rich in meat, thanks to butchering the broiler chickens and the deer from last year.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Free Mini Candle this weekend from B&BWorks

Go to their facebook page and get a coupon for a free mini candle from Bath and Body Works!   It is valid from Friday, October 26- Sunday, October 28th.

This could be a great little stocking stuffer, part of a larger gift (just store it in your Christmas Box!)  or just a nice little treat for yourself.

I chose one that smells like "Autumn"! :)


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Update

So, I posted a while back (here and here) about the book(s) I'm writing.

I've been concentrating on the one closest to completion, the one nearest and dearest to my heart.  I *think*, perhaps, I finally have a title.

The first 10 chapters have been sent to the beta reader and I'm getting some really positive feedback, as well as some valuable notes about anything that needs clarification.

Apparently I am also quite fond of commas.  I already knew this about myself.  I'm ok with it.

I'm currently working on some rewrites of later chapters.  The book started out going one direction and actually ended up metamorphosing into a whole new creatures as the characters developed their personalities beyond my first scribbled notes.  Regardless of how or why they changed, several chapters are severely out of date, trying to propel them down a path that just doesn't exist later on. I'm saving these chapters in case they fit into later projects and rewriting them from the ground up.

Occasionally I go through periods where I can't get the words down quickly enough.  Other times, like last night, it takes me well over an hour to bang out a few paragraphs to my satisfaction. It helps to have the pressure of the beta reader to keep me powering through the tough-to-perfect parts.  Even if I try to distract myself by cleaning (or blogging) I know I have to get back to work to keep ahead of the demand for new chapters.

So there you have it.  I'm still plugging along.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Redbox 1/2 price movie rental

Redbox is offering a half price movie rental with coupon code: JXX6GHR3

It's good through November 1st.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Free Taco Bell- maybe

Taco Bell has a new promotion involving the World Series!

If a base is stolen any time during the first four games, Taco Bell will give out one Free Doritos Locos Taco per person from 2 PM to 6 PM on Tuesday, October 30th.

If no bases are stolen during the first four games, but one is stolen in any of the last three games (5-7), the promotion will take place from 2 PM to 6 PM on Monday, November 5th, 2012.

It is at participating locations only, so if a base DOES get stolen, you may want to call up your favorite Taco Bell to make sure they are participating before you run over there.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Pancake Batter Dispenser

Not my picture- like I have that much counter space!
Do you make a lot of pancakes?

The next time you finish a squeeze bottle of ketchup, rather than tossing out the bottle, wash it out.  Put in your pancake batter and you can squeeze out exact amounts instead of slopping the batter all over the place while you try to spoon it in to your pan.

You could even do fun shapes with the control the bottle gives you.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Temporary Mom

Tim and I are temporary parents- we've inherited a 10 year old little girl for 5 days.

I'm already learning tons of things- don't get me wrong, we've hung out with Deanna before, we've babysat her- but never for an extended period of time and certainly not overnight.

Lesson #1:  Small kids don't eat very much at all.  As in, don't make extra food for them, they can just eat what you would normally have as leftovers.  In your over-eagerness to make sure they don't die of starvation, you will make enough extra food to feed a professional linebacker.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gone a week, gone a lifetime

We spent the past week in Florida with my in-laws.  It was warm down there- some days drenching us in sweat, though by the last few days it was beautiful.

When we returned home, it felt like we had been gone more like a month!  It's cool here- approaching cold at night.  The trees, which had just begun to color their leaves when we left, are nearing their full Fall splendor.  My poor in-laws live in the mountains and they came home to bare trees and dead tomato plants!
Our garden is mostly dead as well, time to pick the very last of it's produce. 

My junior bunnies (those under 6 months old) have undergone a metamorphosis since I have last seen them- mostly for the better!  Still, in just a single week my "babies" have turned in to mini adults! Time flies in earnest when you're gone.

We did have one mild heartattack when we came home- the chickens were all out and two were missing.  I saw tons of feathers everywhere and assumed the worst, but luckily everyone is still alive.  The other two girls were apparently off on a field trip somewhere.  Note to self: fix the coop door.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trick Yourself in to Saving Money Tip #5

Do you use coupons?  Even if you are only a casual couponer, try moving that $3.00 you saved on your last grocery bill directly in to savings.  It's not like you'll miss it and it will help bolster your savings account!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cutting Costs of Sporting Events and Concerts!

Ok, so you've read about having minor league experiences and you know all about the high cost of seeing a professional game, but you really want to go see those pros play.

I totally get that.   That doesn't mean you have to pay full price for everything though.

Try StubHub to get your tickets!  People get tickets or have season tickets and can't make it to all the games, so they post them (often deeply discounted) on this website.  StubHub backs every order, so no worries about getting fakes and being cheated out of your money. We have used this site twice- once to get discounted Anaheim Angels tickets and once to get very discounted UNC-Chapel Hill men's basketball tickets.  They even sell concert tickets, so don't despair if your concert is too expensive or is sold out- check out StubHub and see what you can find.  It may save you a few bucks.

Eat before you go.  It may sound appealing to have a ballpark hot dog and a box of popcorn while watching your favorite sports team, but when you get there and realize you just paid the equivalent of a steak dinner for a snack that doesn't even taste that good, you're going to be very disappointed.

Go easy on the drinks.  Beer and alcoholic drinks are widely available at concerts, sporting events and other similar venues (like street fairs).  They are also highly marked up.  Do you want to miss the play of the game or your favorite song because you had to go to the bathroom?  Do you want to be drunk through an event that probably cost you upwards of $100 to experience?  Skip the $7 beers or just drink in moderation and you will really cut the money you spend on your night out. Plus you won't have those holes in your memory of the night before or that pesky hangover to deal with.

Carpool.  Since paying for parking is unavoidable, see if any friends or family are interested in going to your event.  You don't have to sit together, but splitting up the cost of parking is at least 50% savings!  That $7.50 might just buy you a beer, hehe.

Easy on the souvenirs.  I know that concert Tee looks totally awesome.  I also know that the stuffed bear wearing a baseball uniform is super cute.  Evaluate how much you need items before you buy them and don't do your shopping after you've tossed back a few drinks.   Go with a budget- your wallet will thank me next year, when you sell that bear for $1 at a yardsale, or the donate the unworn Tee to Goodwill because the concert's idea of an XL and yours are two different things.

Hopefully these tips help ease the pain of trying to see a concert or a game.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

$5 Amazon MP3 Credit

You can earn a $5 Amazon MP3 Credit for very little work right now.  Just go join Scott Rewards and they will send you the credit! You sign up (I used my survey email account and also unchecked the box about sending my info to 3rd parties), then you go to page 2 and tell them what Scott products you have in the house. 

That's it! Enter the second security code and the code should arrive in your inbox in just a few minutes.


Monday, October 1, 2012

McCormick's Recipe Inspirations

I don't get paid or any kind of anything for telling you about these. Hi McCormick! Come pay me!

A friend of mine gave us a package of McCormick Recipe Inspirations recently.  She had purchased it, but decided she probably wouldn't get around to using it, though she loves these little packages.

Basically, it's the spices you need for a particular recipe (recipe card is on the back of the package).  They are pre-measured and actually really convenient.  So if your spice cabinet is not as stuffed full as mine are, read on!

We made the Apple & Sage Pork Chops and they were incredible.  I'm not a big fan of "sweet meat", but this recipe was much more savory than sweet.  I didn't have Allspice or Rubbed Sage on hand, so it worked out well to have it in the package.  Plus, now I have the recipe card so when inevitably I do get the Rubbed Sage and Allspice, I can make my own recipe, minus a little convenience.   The ingredients I needed outside the spices were minimal- an apple, an onion, the pork chops, apple juice and a tbsp of flour.  Not bad at all.

There are quite a few different flavor packets- I am thinking these would be perfect to take on vacation with you, if you know you'll be cooking in the room.  I'm actually planning on getting at least one packet for the upcoming trip to Florida.

So, here is an easy way to spice up your cooking- learn a bit about flavors and how they interact while making a quick and easy meal.  It'll impress anyone that eats it and you don't have have a Ph.D. in Cooking to pull off the recipe. 

Overall- I'm a huge fan!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Homegrown Chicken

So, we have officially butchered all the meaties (and one unfortunate Australorp that was bigger than the others, which led to a case of mistaken identity...)

Anyway, they are all gone.  While the yield was pathetic because of the blatant lies in the description from Ideal Poultry, we put it all in freezer bags and went on with our lives.

This week, I tossed one of the "midget chickens" in to the crockpot, preparing to make chicken pie.  Then we got texts from Chickfila for a free meal.  We went out.   I tossed the cooked chicken in to a container in the fridge, fully aware that it was probably going to be tough when I used it (after all, it has been before when I've had to put off a meal for a day).  Two days later, we bring out the chicken and realize there isn't enough meat for chicken pie- it will have to be chicken 'n dumplins.  Whatever.

I have to tell you- the meat is so freaking tender.  Yes, I crockpotted it, but remember, it's been sitting in the fridge for two days!  I warmed up leftovers for lunch today and it is still really freaking tender.

I am officially in love with homegrown chicken.  The flavor and texture is incredible!  Now I just need to figure out a way that I can grow some actual fast growing chickens next year so we can get more.  Yum yum!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Free Mug from Coldwater Creek!

Go to your shopathome account and login in or sign up!  Under Today's Best Deals! You'll see the Coldwater Creek Barcelona mug advertised for $0.00.  Click on the picture, select the mug you want, then enter "TAKE30" at check out.

The mug will be $3.49 after discount, and shopathome will put $3.49 in your account- plus you get FREE shipping!  This could be a great gift for someone!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shop Til You Drop!

Yesterday didn't start out being a full day of shopping- but it just kind of turned in to that.

We started off at Mimi's Cafe for lunch, since we had a B1G1 lunch coupon.  It was delicious and Tim and I both brought our huge muffins home, because we simply couldn't eat them.

Then it was off to Bath & Body Works to pick up my free 2oz. Aromatherapy Body Wash (coupon which is making it's way around Facebook, but which I can no longer post on the blog because of the format.  Sigh.  Run to their Facebook page to get it!).

We ran to Petsmart to take advantage of their Friends and Family 15% off event. The majority of my money left me here, since we stocked up on cat food, dog food and cat litter.  I had coupons to stack (just for the dog food) in addition to the 15% off, so we ended up saving around $30.  Hey, that's not bad at all!

We ran to Belk to get new pillows, since ours were flat and dead.  This is where we ran in to some unexpected news- Belk is having a huge clearance sale! I picked up five new shirts for work, since my others are definitely starting to be too big (yay), a t-shirt and the two pillows.

Kohls yielded a new shirt for Tim- also on clearance.  It was marked down to 80% off! Cha-ching!

We hit the local Goodwill stores, looking for items for our Halloween costumes.  We finally found a great shirt for Tim (once we do a little bit of dyeing) and he also found two new pairs of shorts! I picked up a pair of jeans that fit perfectly and are a size smaller than the shorts I was wearing.  Talk about a confidence booster!

Then, we ended up going to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.  Believe me, I hadn't planned on eating dinner out again but we were hungry and we were there.  Since we both ended up bringing food home, at least that helps cut the cost down.

A quick trip to "The Sock Store" in search of knee high black and orange striped toe socks was fruitless (c'mon Sock Store...), but I found a great piece for my costume at a Spirit of Halloween store. 

It was a full day yesterday, including our meals, we spent right around 8 hours out and about.  I feel great though, we got things we needed, our costumes are almost done and we did it all on one trip to the same town, which ultimately will save us money in gas!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Kohls Sales!

You should check out Kohls!  They have some awesome things on clearance (I bought some dishtowels and travel cups for almost nothing) plus you can save more with the following codes:


FREE2SHIP- Free shipping

What I love about is you can use BOTH these codes!  Don't forget about shopping through ebates or shopathome to get more cashback!


Petsmart Friends and Family Weekend

Head on over to to print their Friends and Family Weekend coupons!  You can save 15% off anything in the store, plus you can stack this coupon with a regular manufacturer's coupon.

It's a great time to score some deals on things you have to buy anyway for your pets.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grow Food, Not Grass Movement

As the push towards healthier food and household sustainability continues, there is a movement making it's voice heard- the grassroots (vegetable roots?) campaign to "Grow Food, Not Grass".

They make an excellent point-  what benefit do you get from grass? You have to mow it, which takes time, effort and money (think gas for the mower, repairs to the mower, etc).  What do you get in return?  Sure, it's pretty when it's well kept.  That's about it. 

Instead, through some creative landscaping, you can replace some or all of that grass with plants that actually give you some benefit.  Fresh herbs in beautiful beds, vibrant reds, greens, and oranges as you plant edible plants in areas that were before just grass. There are tons of excellent ideas online about how to "upcycle" old pallets, croc shoes, etc. in to making decorative plant holders or no-weed garden plots.

Now, I'm not saying you have to give up your whole lawn, or even that you do have to replace part of it with garden beds.  It would be less attractive in the winter when less things are growing, I need somewhere for my dogs to go poop, and frankly I just enjoy walking barefoot on grass at any opportunity.  However, I am saying- think about that hard to mow corner of your yard- the one you hate.  Everyone has one.  What about putting some fresh herbs there?  What about a vegetable garden?  So you're looking to plant a few more trees...could they be fruit trees?

It never hurts to have some of your own food growing and really it doesn't take very much time to do it.  There are so many ways to cut down weeding, from container growing to putting down plastic or other sheeting that helps keeps weeds out.   Plus, you have the option of growing your own organic food or controlling what is on the plants.  You have the option of canning, freezing or eating fresh those yummy treats that you have to have each summer- like cantaloupe or watermelon.   You do it much more cheaply by growing your own. 

So maybe, one of those folks who finds yourself sighing and saying "I wish the lawn would just die" or "Gah, I have to mow it again"- just maybe growing food, not grass, is the right option for you.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Make your own sugar scrub

If you enjoyed making your own bath salts, you'll enjoy making your own sugar scrub! This is also a fantastic gift idea.

You'll need:
1/2 cup of Sugar
1/4 cup of Olive oil
10 drops of Peppermint essential oil
1 drop Eucalyptus essential oil
1 half pint glass jar

Put your sugar in a medium bowl, then add your other ingredients and stir well!  Pour it in to your jar and seal.  If you are giving it as a gift, a bit of fabric between the lid and ring will make it gorgeous.  Feel free to play with the scent. You can omit the Eucalyptus and just use 11 drops of another essential oil if you prefer.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Feeling Good

I'm feeling pretty proud of myself lately.  I've done a lot of canning, I've started a second job- oh and I've lost 25 lbs :).

It wasn't an all at once thing and I'm actually at 26 lbs lost as of this morning.  Still working on getting down to my ideal weight, but I'm very pleased in general. 

We are going on our vacation in just a few weeks.  That thrills me to death, though I'm starting to stress a little just on general principle.  I've just got a few little extra things to do that can all be done in a day or so, but I haven't done them yet.  I'm planning on finishing up this week on the planning so I can do nothing but start packing and getting excited for a week off work!

The weather has been gorgeous the past few days- cool temperatures and sunny! I love this time of year. I don't think I ever feel as good as I do in September and October. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Free Samples from Walmart

You can go here and get three different free samples! One is a cat food sample, one is a dog food sample and one is a dog treat sample! Woot :).


Monday, September 10, 2012

Babysitting a Geriatric Poodle

We are watching my friend's extremely old poodle while she and her husband are in Fiji for the week.

Spade is approximately 900 years old.  He's mostly deaf, mostly blind, partially incontinent and so needy that I think his fur is actually velcro.  He takes 100 medicines twice a day and two more once a day.  I'm not sure how he is still alive.


Spade is a good dog in general.  He is very devoted to Becca, my friend, and apparently females in general as he is suddenly glued to me.   Unfortunately, Becca and I train our dogs differently.   Spade is accustomed to sleeping in the bedroom with his owner, if not actually in the bed with her once her husband goes to sleep.

We don't let dogs sleep in the bed with us.

This led to the first fun moment of the night last night, when I put him in the bathroom for the evening, along with food and a loaner toy (and his blanket).  He proceeded to howl and bark for 20 minutes.  So in to the bedroom he had to come, since there is no place we could stick him that we wouldn't hear him.


Off came the collar, because every time he moved it was "jingle jingle jingle".   Diaper on (Yes, Spade wears diapers), in case he decided to lift a leg in the house (also not acceptable behavior).

Then came the crying to go out at 1am. He'd already peed in his diaper.   I hadn't managed to get to sleep at this point, so I was obviously annoyed at taking him out.

Fast forward a few minutes when I force him to come back in because he's just standing outside with his nose buried in the dirt doing nothing.  It takes him 15 minutes to settle back down, after wandering the room, rustling bags, etc.  Finally he curls back on his bed and goes to sleep.

5am in the morning, he decides he wants to go back outside.  Tim stomps him outside, because if Tim is awake, damnit, everyone else is going to be awake too.  Thanks Tim, I was finally working on getting some sleep.

Spade comes back it, it takes a few minutes to herd him back to the bedroom.  Then Tim forgot to put his diaper on.  The lights come back on, more stomping around the house, etc.  Finally, Spade is diapered and settles back down.

Alarm clock comes on at 7:40 am.  Just when I am finally sleeping hard.  I get up, get ready, take the dog out, he comes bouncing in thrilled to be up and even happier to receive his arthritis and heart medicines.  Then I shut him back in the bedroom because Tim is trying to sleep and I have to go to work.

He starts scratching at the door.  Also not acceptable behavior in our house.  As I left this morning, Tim was yelling at a deaf dog to "STOP IT".

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind dog sitting at all.  Becca is my bunny sitter when we are out of town.  I am just really hoping this first night was rough simply because he was being too nosy to properly go outside and use the bathroom.  He also needs to adjust to our schedules.  Becca and her husband stay up later than Tim and I do, so I'm sure that has thrown the potty breaks off a bit.

It does leave me wondering though....can I safely roofie a 15 lb, 900 year old dog?  Because I could really, really use a good night's sleep tonight.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Storing Onions

Not my picture- wish it was!
Use panty hose to store onions!  Drop one in, knot the hose above the onion, drop in another, etc, etc.

Then when you need an onion, you can just clip the hose right below the knot.  Voila! It keeps them from spoiling and is convenient to use.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Please Autumn, get here soon!

We had a bit of a teaser weather wise, with some beautiful days in the mid-70s.  It was the kind of weather where you walk outside to perfectly colored blue skies, piled high with the fluffiest white clouds you've ever seen.  Your heart literally just soars at the joy of being outside, of being alive.
It was glorious.

So, forgive me if I'm not totally excited that the week of perfection has been followed by humidity so thick it feels like you need a knife to cut through it.  I love walking outside and instantly beginning to sweat, while my hair curls in it's best Medusa impression.  Oh, the overcast skies and intermittent rain that actually only makes it hotter on a 90 degree day have really just been icing on the crap-cake.

Please, Autumn.  Get here soon. I'm longing you with a desire that is almost unholy.  Why do you never come early and stay late?   I miss you, Fall.  I miss you bad.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Make your own Bath Salts

Are you a bath salt junkie? You know, I don't mean snorting them, eating them, injecting them or whatever it is folks do now-a-days.  I mean plain old bath salts, that you actually put in the bath to enjoy a relaxing soak.

If so, check out this really simple recipe that will allow you to soak in luxury at a significantly lower price.

You'll need:
1 1/2 cups of Epson salt
1/2 cup of kosher salt
2-5 drops of food coloring, depending on what color you want them
2 drops of essential oils- whatever your preference is.
Pint Jar

Mix the salt together in the jar, then add food coloring drop by drop until you get desired color.  Add in your essential oil and mix again.

There you go! Seal up your jar and use whenever you need a little pampering!  This can make a beautiful gift as well.

If you are feeling particularly creative, you can use multiple colors of food coloring and layer your jars in lovely stripes. 


Monday, September 3, 2012

Harvesting and Storing

I have come to the conclusion I need more storage space.  Oh and about a billion convenient gadgets, but that is another story.

We put up two food-saver bags full of chicken- one of just the breasts and another bag with a whole chicken.  We also put up a back of thighs and legs- that will go to the dogs at some point, neither Tim and I like to eat thighs.  I don't want them to go to waste though!

We put up a few ears of corn- just four, since we had two with dinner and saved back two for another dinner soon.

I also finally put the apple chips in small food-saver bags.  They had been "seasoning" in mason jars on the counter (basically, I wanted to make sure there was no excess moisture to cause them to ruin, and it was easy access to snack on them!)  I went from four jars on the counter to just one- these will be the chips we eat first!

The garden is dying, but I've been reading about how to store green tomatoes so that they will continue to safely ripen.  Some folks have mentioned they have made green tomatoes last into November! I'm very tempted to give this a try, since it would be nice to not have to toss a ton of perfectly fine produce.   The cantaloupe vine is all but dead, however that last cantaloupe is very stubbornly hanging on.  I would have thought it would have been ready before now, but nooo.

I'm drying corn husks as we speak- these will go up for rabbit fodder in the winter.  If we have a mild winter like last year (unlikely) it will be unnecessary, but if not, it will be some welcome (and cheap aka. free) roughage for the rabbits.

Speaking of drying- I have more apple chips to make.  Not to mention a watermelon that is begging to be cut and dehydrated and another bag of apples being given to me soon!

Apple butter time, I guess!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sunburnt but fun!


We went to Hillsville Virginia this weekend for their annual Flea Market and Gun Show.  They estimate in 4 days 500,000 people will walk through there.

I believe it.

We just got home and I am sunburned (despite walking around under an umbrella that looks like a dinosaur- I got many compliments!) and exhausted, but it was so interesting to see all the junk people had.   Unfortunately, like everything I am afraid, the Hillsville venue has been overly commercialized.  Rather than regular people hanging out selling items, it was a lot of bulk socks, knives clearly purchased in huge lots, buy outs of places going out of business- oh and "antiques", aka so rusted no one can tell what it is.

I did manage to find a small Tigger plush dressed as Darkwing Duck (Let's get dangerous) which was adorable because it combines my favorite Disney character with Tim's.   I also found a beautiful painting for only $15!  I am painting broke now, I believe I'll have to sell a few of mine so that I can hand this new one!

Tim purchased a record and a 15 round magazine for his .30 Carbine.  My dad, who went with us, found nothing! That was the big surprise.

Oh well, we had a good time, spent very little money (yay for more money going in to the savings account) and we spent all day getting exercise instead of sitting on the couch!  I count that a successful day.

Now excuse me while I go recover by sitting on the couch and watching tv.


Friday, August 31, 2012

False Advertising

I recently purchased 25 Black Broiler chicks from Ideal Poultry.  According to their website "Black Broilers are efficient producers of broiler meat for those who do not wish to have white plumage broilers. When broiler rations are fed, producers can expect to have six pound broilers in seven weeks or less. Since black broilers are more active than Cornish Rocks and grow slightly slower, they rarely experience leg weakness or Ascite, which is fluid in the body cavity."
This is the entire description.  Sounded good to me- fast growing, efficient birds, without the worry of sudden death. 

At 7 weeks old, my largest bird weighs 2 3/4 lbs.  Now, admittedly I am not good at math, but it seems to me that 2 3/4lbs is somewhat smaller than 6lbs.  In fact, it seems like it is a lot smaller than 6lbs.

Upon calling the company, I talked with a representative who told me she hates the wording on the website because no one gets those results.  In fact, according to her, every single factor must be 100% correct to get a 6lb bird in 7 weeks from this cross.

Wow.  Can we say False Advertising much?  My birds have been fed a high protein broiler feed, given clean water and kept properly- and they are not even half the advertised size.   I did get my money back for the birds (after demanding something be done), but meanwhile I've put quite a bit of feed in to them and now I am stuck with birds that aren't even close to a good butchering weight, and may not be ready for another few months!

At this point, I am trying to figure out when to cut my losses and have the birds processed.  I can expect maybe a pound and a half chicken if we have it done now, but I can not have roosters that start crowing.  It is annoying to me and I am sure it will be annoying to my neighbors.

I have been very disappointed with my dealings with Ideal Poultry.  Meanwhile, these poor birds are in a situation where they are unwanted because they didn't perform as expected.

Oh well, it is what it is.  We'll see after butchering the first few roosters if it's worth it or how to proceed from here.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Make Your Own Laundry Color Catcher

I've had a few free samples of Shout Color Catcher sheets.  It always amazes me how even old clothing leaks colors in to the washing machine water.

Did you know you can make your own laundry color catcher sheets?

You will need:
1 yard of scrap fabric
1 tablespoon of Washing soda
1 cup of hot water

Dissolve the washing soda in to your hot water.  Stuff in your scrap fabric until it becomes saturated, then let it dry.  

Cut off a piece (or precut the fabric and just grab a sheet) of your dried fabric and toss it in your laundry load.  You're done!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Apple Chips

I was given a bag of red delicious apples yesterday- yum yum.  Red delicious are most definitely my favorite and these are crisp and sweet.  However, there are definitely more than I can eat, so I decided to give dehydrating them a shot.

I only made two trays (two apples) because I didn't want to mess them up and waste the entire bag.  I sliced the apples around 1/8th of an inch thick and left the skin on.   One tray was plain, one tray had cinnamon sprinkled on it's apples.   I started the dehydrator at 6:00pm last night and then checked the apples when I got out of the shower this morning, around 8:15.

Perfection!  The apple chips are crisp, but not burnt.  There is a very slight discoloration from being exposed to the air, but it's not bad at all. 

I packed the flavored and unflavored chips in to separate mason jars and sealed them.  I'll let them sit for a few days (shaking the jar occasionally) so that any moisture helps redistribute, then they will go in to food-saver bags.  I'm confident in my ability to make delicious apple chips now- hooray!  Now I just need to find that recipe for dehydrated apple pie... what a time saver it would be later on!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Clear Plastic Bottles and the Freezer!

Freezing chopped onions or herbs is a great way to save time in recipes later on- as well as reduce spoilage.  Try freezing them, then putting the item in a clear, clean water bottle for a handy and free dispenser. You can label the cap with whatever is inside.  You can quickly see what is in the bottle, shake out however much you need, then replace the cap and stick it back in the freezer!



Friday, August 24, 2012

Special Ice Cubes

In a conversation the other day about how much food Americans throw away (almost half of what we encounter, if you can believe it), a friend mentioned she throws away a lot of citrus and wondered if she should juice it and freeze the juice in to ice cubes.

What a great idea!
Can you imagine?  Lemon juice ice cubes to cool down and flavor your sweet tea!  Orange Juice cubes to keep your Orange Juice cool- don't even get me started on lemon cubes for lemonade.  You could even mix and match your ice cubes to create whole new flavor drinks, without watering down what you are drinking.  Not to mention the vitamins you'd be adding in to your daily diet.   You could freeze the ice cubes, then pop like-flavors cubes in to freezer bags and label them.  It would be easy to store and easy to use.

Or, let's say you need just a little lemon juice for a recipe.  You can melt an ice cube or two and have all you need, rather than buying more produce for a small or rare use.

You are saving money and helping yourself all at once! 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Make your own Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning is one of the most inexpensive things in the world to make- so why do we spend $1 on a small packet of it? Half the time we don't even use a whole packet, so then I have to either toss half my money away or save it in a baggy in the fridge- annoying.  Not to mention, I've heard great things about how much better homemade tastes!

So here we go- You'll Need:

1/2 cup of chili powder
1/4 cup of onion power
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/8 cup of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of garlic powder

Combine all ingredients into a jar or container and shake.

That's it.  Use it to taste.  You can store it in a mason jar or other air tight container.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Refuse Jelly

Never in my life did I know you could make so many things out of "reject" parts of food.  For instance- Watermelon Rind preserves? Had no idea!  Corn Cob Jelly? Now we're just getting silly!

It's true though- these are real foods.  For instance, here is the recipe to Watermelon Rind Preserves:


  • 4 pounds chopped watermelon rind
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 9 cups white sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons crushed cinnamon stick
  • 4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 4 lemons - rinsed, sliced and seeded
  • 1 dash red food coloring (optional)


  1. Peel off the green part of the watermelon rind, and slice into 2 inch pieces. Soak the rind in a solution of 1 gallon water and 1/2 cup salt overnight.
  2. Remove rind from the salt water, and place in a stockpot with clean water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rind is tender. Drain.
  3. In a large pot, combine the sugar, 8 cups water, and sliced lemons. Tie the cinnamon and cloves into a cheesecloth bag, and place in the pot. Bring the syrup to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Add the rinds, and cook until transparent. Remove spice bag. Stir in red food coloring, if using. Ladle preserves into hot sterile jars, and process to seal.

 And here is the recipe for Corn Cob Jelly-

Boil 6 or 8 sweet corn cobs (after corn is cut off) for about 10 minutes in water to cover. Strain the liquid. Measure 3 cups liquid in the same pan.Add 1 box of Sure-Jell and bring to a rolling boil. Add 4 cups sugar. Again, bring to boil and boil 1 minute. For color, you may add a little yellow food coloring. Pour in glasses, same as any jelly.
All I keep hearing about Corn Cob Jelly is that it tastes just like honey. 

You can do all kinds of neat things with odd pieces of "refuse" that you would think would need to be thrown out or tossed on the compost heap.  It may be worth giving it a shot- imagine serving this to someone and after they ooohh and ahhh over it, telling them not only did you make it- it was made out of rinds or corn cobs!