Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Super Saving Momma!

From yesterdays post you all now know that I have started a new job.

So what is it?

Well, I'm declaring myself a couponing, Super Saving Momma! And YES thats my official job title! That's a job, right? I think it is!

For the past month I have been trying to put my coupon game face on. I wanted to be able to contribute a little more to our family, without having to add in more hours at my actual job which would lead to finding another babysitter for the Punkin. In my mind I decided that if I really hunker down and spend some time figuring out the coupon world I'd be able to save some money, and the money that I'm saving would be like my "paycheck". Extreme couponing in my near future? Definitely not! I'm not THAT into it, but if I can save a buck here and there I'm all for it.

Between register rewards, coupons, and shopping for deals of the week at different stores I have managed to cut the amount I spend per week down by $60 - $80! Amazing what a little time and effort can do!

My stores of choice have been Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Target and Hannaford and/or Market Basket. Mainly because they are close for me, but I have other reasons for hand picking those as well. The rewards the pharmacies offer are great, once you get the hang of them. You have to spend a little money to make a little there. Last week was my first time using Rite Aid's rewards program combined with coupons. And I'm pretty happy with how I made out.

Last Week's Rite Aid Savings: I spent $31 out of pocket on about $60 worth of items. I also got back $10 in rewards as well.

And yes, I admit, its a little bit time consuming to be out to all of these stores during the week instead of just doing all of your shopping at one store. But the savings are well worth it!

Last week's Walgreen's Savings: I spent $19 out of pocket. And received $8 in rewards.
The large bottles of shampoo/conditioner and 2 tubes of toothpaste alone would have cost me more than $19!

    Not bad for a novice, right?

    I start at 8am on Monday and hit Walgreen's, CVS, Target and Hannaford (or Market Basket). Usually we are home by lunch time.

    Of course I sometimes need to fit Michael's or Joann's Fabrics in there too for some crafty supplies - with coupons too of course!  So that tends to drag out my shopping trip. Punkin is a good shopping partner though and usually has no complaints.

    Last week's fabric finds. Cute, aren't they?

    In all seriousness - I'd have to grocery shop at some point anyways. And with this schedule I can hit all the stores at once, early in the week when most of the good deals aren't sold out.

    I do need to put the time in on Sunday to get my coupons and lists in order. Its not a fool proof way to save money, you DO have to put a little time into it to reap the rewards. I also cut out all the coupons I'm NOT going to use and put them in an album. I share those with friends so they can join in on the savings too!

    What about the paycheck you ask? It is a job and all, so pay is a must. I figure that what I save is what I make.

    If I saved $80 and spent 3 to 4 hours shopping on Monday, plus 2 to 3 hours couponing and making lists on Sunday, I "worked" for a max of 7 hours.
    So $80 in 7 hours gives me $11.43 an hour. Not GREAT pay, but better than nothing!

    And TECHNICALLY I'm getting paid to shop, so thats the BIG plus side!

    The sense of satisfaction, and the challenge of finding a great deal is so rewarding to me. I think I'm becoming addicted...

    Have any good couponing tips or sites to share? Id LOVE to hear about them!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Finally! Mother's Day Projects Exposed

    I know I promised I would post this first thing this week...and here it is Friday. But, better late than never right? Its been one of THOSE weeks, the ones that have you running around everywhere!

    Here are the gifts that we gave to our Moms and Grandmothers this past Mother's Day, and instructions on how you can make them yourself.

    So, here are the three homemade gifts we made:

    Key Lime Pie in a Jar

    16 Ounces Cream Cheese (softened)
    3/4 Cup Key Lime Juice (I used fresh squeezed)
    14 Ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
    1 Teaspoon Grated Lime Zest
    1 Sleeve Graham Crackers Crushed

    1. Use an electric mixer to mix together cream cheese, lime juice, and condensed milk. 
    2. When mixture is smooth mix in lime zest
    3. Spoon mixture into jars, cups, bowls, etc. Layering with Graham cracker crumbs on the bottom, on the top or in-between the key lime mixture. 
    4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. 
    Enjoy with whipped cream!

    Chalkboard Ribbon Planter

    Chalkboard Spray Paint (in color of choice)
    Flower Pot
    Glue Gun

    1. Using the directions on the back of the spray paint coat the flower pot. I used 2 light coats per pot.
    2. Once the paint has dried for 24 hours choose your ribbon.
    3. Hot Glue the ribbon around the top of the pot - we also added bows, layered ribbons, etc. 
    4. Add soil and plant to the pot (We grew nasturtiums from seed)
    5. Use the chalk to write a note on the pot

    Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub

    1 Cup White Granulated Sugar
    Juice from 1 Large Lemon
    1 Tblsp. Lemon Zest
    1/4  Cup Almond Oil (Olive Oil can be used as well)

    1. Roll the lemon on the counter to smoosh the juice out of the fruit inside.
    2. Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. Mix an equal amount of water into the lemon juice. 
    3. In a bowl add sugar, almond oil (I only used 1/4 cup, some people like more), lemon juice and zest. Stir well until a paste is formed. More sugar can be added if you feel the mixture should be thicker.
    4. Add to decorative jars.
    Sugar Scrubs will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. 

    Now that Mother's Day has come and gone, what is everyone doing for Father's Day??? 

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Blogger is back and so is my angel!

    YAY! Blogger is back up! Thats the good news. The bad news? My newest post with tutorials on how our Mothers Day gifts (chalkboard/ribbon planters, key lime pie in a jar and exfoliating sugar scrub) were made was lost. That will teach me to make sure I back up my posts. So here's a sneak peek...you can look forward to them early next week:

    Because I don't have the time today to re-write that post, and I don't have a husband around all weekend to vent to - you, my dear followers, get to listen to my rant! :) Don't you love me?

    But, if this post proves to be too boring for you (sorry!) feel free to head on over to the Hubby's Blog where you'll be sure to get a good laugh!

    Now, back to my rant....

    I think it was yesterday, or maybe the day before, that I was sitting back basking in the fact that I RARELY have to discipline the Punkin in public for throwing tantrums. I believe I chuckled to myself as I thought "Wow, I have a really well-behaved, perfect, innocent, polite, do-no-wrong, little toddler!". I didn't dwell on the topic, simply let it roll through my thoughts and went back to what I was doing. Almost taking for granted that for the past 2 years she has, for the most part, been a little gem. Listens when we ask her to do something, knows what she can and cant touch, says thank you when something is handed to her, isn't moody, etc. Don't get me wrong she by all means knows how to throw one heck of a hissy fit but they are (or were) few and far between, and usually don't carry on for longer than a few minutes. Well, that thought jinxed me. Shame on me for having such a thought because today the inevitable hour long tantrum happened.

    An ugly alien being took over my child for the better part of an hour in the grocery store. A harsh, infuriated, kicking, hitting, screeching, devil-horned, red headed alien.  Am I painting a pretty picture for you? Maybe this will help - picture a toddler in the grocery store sitting in the cart, looking all cute, smiling at the passers-by. Now, picture that same child, just with her head spinning and horns growing out of her pig-tails. Clenching her jaw and yelling "NO MOMMA!!!! GO AWAY!!!!!!" at the top of her lungs all because she didnt want me to physically touch the cart to push it. Or picture that same cute little red-head quietly holding onto a bunch of bananas that we had picked up, quietly counting how many there were. Then in an instant that same little red-head turns into one heck of a dodgeball player, and yup, chucks the bananas at an unsuspecting little old lady that was just trying to pick out pasta sauce. Or again, picture that sweet, perfect little doll pointing out eggs, milk and yogurt in the dairy aisle, you think shes behaving so you turn your back for a split second to grab sour cream, only to look back and find that she had grabbed one of the yogurts from the cart and stuck her fingers through the foil top and was beginning to finger paint her shirt! In that split second things went from bad to worse. Let the screaming commence...upon taking the yogurt away from her blood curdling screams of horror came out of her little body. Screams so bad you would swear...honestly I don't know what you would swear was happening, it was THAT bad. Hitting, kicking, and smacking anything she could reach. The looks that were shot my way from other people were enough to make me want to crawl into a hole. Nothing I did would calm her down. Normally I can slightly raise my voice, tell her that what shes doing is unacceptable and divert her attention onto something thats ok for her to do. Usually that almost instantly changes her attitude. This time - HA! None of the tricks I had up my sleeve worked. The screeching, screaming and flailing lasted all the way through the check out, to the car, and half way home. Then it was like someone flipped a switch, by the time we pulled in the driveway she was happy as a clam reading in the backseat. When I went around to the back door to unbuckle her I got that cute little smile and a "Hi, Momma!". My little angel was back where a few minutes before there was a fire breathing dragon. Totally amazing to me how fast a toddler can change their mood! She was more like a teenager in a toddlers body...boy am I in for it when shes 13!

    So my question to other moms out there....how do you discipline your child in public? Do you discretely try to talk to them so other people can't hear you, use the shock and awe approach to get them to pay attention not caring if you cause a scene, ignore it and hope they stop, just walk out of the situation hoping a change of scenery will help? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

    Have a great weekend!


    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Happy Mothers Day!

    To all of you wonderful Moms out there, 

    What is a Mother? 
    A mother is someone to shelter and guide us,

    To love us, whatever we do,

    With a warm understanding and infinite patience,
    And wonderful gentleness, too.
    How often a mother means swift reassurance

    In soothing our small, childish fears,

    How tenderly mothers watch over their children
    And treasure them all through the years!
    The heart of a mother is full of forgiveness

    For any mistake, big or small,

    And generous always in helping her family
    Whose needs she has placed above all.
    A mother can utter a word of compassion

    And make all our cares fall away,

    She can brighten a home with the sound of her laughter
    And make life delightful and gay.
    A mother possesses incredible wisdom

    And wonderful insight and skill - 

    In each human heart is that one special corner
    Which only a mother can fill!
    - Katherine Nelson Davis 

    Happy Mother's Day!!!

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Citrus (and more!) Vinegar

    After a month of using straight white vinegar in my laundry as a softener, and on my windows/counter as a cleaner, and mixed with castile soap as an all-purpose cleaner, I have become a vinegar junkie. But, I needed more, something better than just plain vinegar.

    Once vinegar dries you are left with nothing - not even the faint smell of vinegar, nothing. Not that vinegar has an appealing smell to begin with. For some people its all well and good to be left without a scent, but when you are used to cleaning with scented cleaners like I used to use (Method's Lavender or Grapefruit sprays were may favorite) you need a little smell in your life!

    Vinegar is pretty easy to scent, and you can use it instantly, with the exception of the homemade citrus vinegar. That takes 4 weeks to work its magic. Citrus in itself is a great cleaner, but, by adding it to vinegar you're giving it super hero powers. Not only will it smell nice, its a great grease cutter too!
    All the other scents listed below are ready to use once you mix them together. 

    What you will need...
    • Pick One of the following scents:
        Essential Oils (Lavender, etc.)
        Citrus Fruit Peels (I save mine in a mason jar in the fridge. Grapefruit, lime, lemon, orange!)
        Fresh Herbs or Flowers - chopped or whole, be sure to tear and bruise some of the leaves/petals to
        release more scent.

    • Gallon of White Vinegar
    • Glass Jar if you want the finished product to look nice, if not leave it in the vinegar container.

    What you need to do.....

    Citrus Vinegar - Fill your container with peels (takes us about 1 week to fill a large mason jar with the peels from fruit we have consumed).  Be sure to clean the peels before using - we scrub them in water/baking soda and rinse well before peeling the fruit to remove chemicals. I make this by the pint or quart since a 1 gallon container of citrus peels would take up too much room in the fridge. After the container is filled add vinegar until the peels are covered. Tightly cover and store in a cool, dry place for 4 weeks. Be sure to shake the container once or twice a week. After the 4 weeks are up strain the vinegar to remove any little pieces and the peels. 

    Essential Oil Vinegar - Using 1 gallon of white vinegar add 25 - 35 drops of the essential oil fragrance of your choice. Shake before using.

    Herbal Vinegar - Using 1 gallon of white vinegar add the fresh herbs of your choice - basil, lavender, thyme, mint, etc. A large bunch of herbs (at least a large handful) is needed - the more you use the more scented your vinegar. Be sure to crumble the leaves slightly before adding them to the vinegar. No need to chop if you don't want to, you can add the stems in their entirety. This is best if you let it sit for 2 to 3 days or more before using. Be sure to shake first. Herbs may be removed from vinegar after a few days, or leave them if you like, just be sure to strain the vinegar before using. Store in a cool, dry place.

    • 1/4 - 1/2 cup in the rinse of your laundry as a softener (helps keep washer clean as well)
    • 1/4 cup in the rinse cycle of your dishwasher, helps remove residue (again keeping washer clean)
    • Mixed 1/2 and 1/2 with water as a glass/surface cleaner. Caution: If using a lot of oil to scent it may leave streaks!
    • Mixed with castile soap, borax, water to make this degreasing spray.
    • Deoderize a room/fridge/etc by adding vinegar to a bowl and letting sit over night. It will soak up the odor.
    • The uses are endless!

    Nap Time Bliss, and Guilty Feelings

    Nap time.
    Beautiful, quiet, serene, nap time.
    Oh, how I love you!

    And how I feel SO guilty saying that!

    Seriously?! I L O V E spending my days with my precious Punkin, so why do I start the nap time count down mid-morning? Some days 1pm "nuh-night time" can't come soon enough, and her 3pm wake up comes too fast.

    This has been heavy on my mind the past week or so, I know it's nothing big in the grand scheme of things, but it bothers me. In a way it makes me sad, I chose to be a SAHM mom for several reasons, and one of those reasons shouldn't be that 2 hour window during the day when the house is silent and I can get some cleaning/bill paying/house projects done. Yet, here I am, once again, thrilled that its nap time. Until of course I look over at the giant stack of bills waiting to be paid. Guess I should get to work...

    Anyone else feel guilty about longing for nap time??

    Care to Share?